Yesterday we told you about the fun story of an ESPN reporter that got to be a fly on the wall when LeBron James was out on the town in Vegas, then wrote a story on it. Said story was up for about nine hours until ESPN editors yanked it down, saying they had not looked at it yet. Probably because LeBron’s people freaked out.
Basically, the story of this getting taken down is far more interesting than the story itself, which said that LeBron acts like a rich, somewhat immature 25 year old celebrity. Shocking news.
ESPN will not be running that story at all, as CNBC’s Darren Rovell got word from both ESPN and the writer, Arash Markazi.
Here are comments from Markazi & ESPN.com’s Rob King. King: “ESPN.com will not be posting the story in any form. We looked into the situation thoroughly and found that Arash did not properly identify himself as a reporter or clearly state his intentions to write a story. As a result, we are not comfortable with the content, even in an edited version, because of the manner in which the story was reported. We’ve been discussing the situation with Arash and he completely understands. To be clear, the decisions to pull the prematurely published story and then not to run it were made completely by ESPN editorial staff without influence from any outside party.” Markazi: “I have been in conversations with ESPN.com’s editors and, upon their complete review, understand their decision not to run the story. It is important to note that I stand by the accuracy of the story in its entirety, but should have been clearer in representing my intent to write about the events I observed.”
One of two things happened here. You can decide for yourself what it was.
One option, Markazi was not clear with LeBron and his people that everything was on the record. You remember the movie Almost Famous? Where a young Cameron Crowe follows around a rock band? That kind of “embedded reporter” thing happens all the time, in all field of journalism, and there are boundaries set up for what is and is not on the record. Happened with reporters in the Gulf War. Happens all the time. It is possible that Markazi — a seasoned professional journalist — did not make it clear he planned to write about everything.
Option two, LeBron’s handlers are amateurs and had no idea that a detailed account of what LeBron does out on the town at night (in a city where he could have gotten in a lot more trouble than he did) would cast him in an unflattering light. How unflattering depends on who you ask, to me he sounded like a lot of 25 year olds out in Vegas, just a lot richer version. But it is possible LeBron’s handlers let Markazi in and really hadn’t though through the implications and freaked out when they saw the story.
Which sounds more plausible to you?