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Saturday, October 23, 2021

ESPN’s Adam Schefter takes ownership of email flap, defends journalistic integrity

It’s never good when the reporter becomes the subject of the story. But that’s what happened to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. At issue is an email Schefter wrote 10 years ago to former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Schefter email was part of a batch filed as exhibits in federal court in mid-June by attorneys for Washington owner Daniel Snyder. That’s the same batch which contained homophobic and racist emails from Jon Gruden, who resigned Monday as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Several emails between Allen and journalists are part of the filing too. In one of them from July 2011, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter sent Allen the draft of an unpublished story that was published later the same day.

“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter wrote. “Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to file this to espn about 6 am …”

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That ignited a firestorm on social media, with many criticizing Schefter for giving an interview subject final approval on a story he was writing. On Wednesday, Schefter appeared on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia to take ownership of the situation. Per Pro Football Talk:

“Fair questions are being asked about my reporting approach on an NFL Lockout story from 10 years ago. Just to clarify, it’s common practice to verify facts of a story with sources before you publish in order to be as accurate as possible. In this case, I took the rare step of sending the full story in advance because of the complex nature of the collective bargaining talks. It was a step too far and, looking back, I shouldn’t have done it. The criticism being levied is fair. With that said, I want to make this perfectly clear: in no way did I, or would I, cede editorial control or hand over final say about a story to anyone, ever.”

The Schefter situation could be just the tip of the iceberg. ESPN reports “The NFL Players Association said Tuesday that it plans to request that the NFL release the remainder of the 650,000 emails reviewed as part of the investigation into workplace misconduct with the Washington Football Team.”

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Mike Rosenstein may be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com.

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