I tell you, this morning’s story from ESPN’s Chris Broussard is a profile in journalistic cowardice and I say that for one reason. Here is the incriminating evidence:
I haven’t seen this much hedging since I worked at Exis Captial and was running an uber-hedged electric utility portfolio. I mean, there are so many caveats in those opening two paragraphs that I’m not even sure there is a story here.
I’m sure both ESPN and Broussard would disagree but like it or not, ESPN has called this election for Miami, just as NBC called “Gore” in the early hours of 11/08/00. Surely, if James picks a hat other than Miami, both ESPN and Broussard will be backtracking harder than the LAPD was last weekend as they moved to wrap up the 30 yr old “Grim Sleeper” murders. But that won’t obscure the FACT that ESPN will be on the wrong side of the biggest story of the year and Chris Broussard will have WHIFFED (2x emphasis added) the biggest story of his life. Sorry guys, “all indications,” and “leaning” are not adequate insurance here. If you want the glory of the scoop, like both do, then you have to have some skin in the game. That is the price for playing.
Now it’s very possible that Broussard has this story firmer than he let on and ESPN forced him to water it down. And that is because ESPN can’t have a definitive Miami story out there when it is trying to drum up interest in the “special.”
But it is also possible that Broussard, like Ric Bucher and JA Adande, is under a lot of pressure to put something out there, he really has very little concrete, and he decided to take a chance and caveat it to death. As such, he pleased his editor and his employer. And he thinks he has covered his ass.
Sorry Chris. You have no protection here. No insurance. No get of jail free card. You are out there on a limb. You surely will take ALL the credit if this thing hits the target. “Hey look at me, I beat 200 other NBA writers to the punch!” And just as surely, if it misses, you will claim that the story changed after you published. That doesn’t cut it. You and ESPN either have the story or you don’t. And no caveats will change that fact. If you don’t believe me, just ask Tom Brokaw and NBC.