SBD/September 7, 2011/Media

Poynter Seeks To Shed Light On ESPN's Relationship With Bruce Feldman

Feldman left ESPN after 17 years to join CBS as college football reporter
In the latest entry for ESPN as part of the Poynter Review Project, Poynter Institute Ethics Group Leader Kelly McBride noted ESPN's story about its relationship with Bruce Feldman and the college football reporter's account "do not match up." After joining CBS last week, Feldman revealed that ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper "instructed him not to participate in an interview with Poynter for a July column on the controversy around Feldman's role in writing a book" with former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach. McBride wrote that is the "most serious allegation Feldman makes, because if it's true, it undermines the foundation of Poynter's role in reviewing and publicly commenting on ESPN's efforts." In response, Skipper last week said, "It is categorically inaccurate that I told him not to talk to you guys. I am a little displeased with his actions." Skipper: "I called Bruce and said, 'If you feel that you need to go on the record with The Poynter Institute, you should do so. I will confess that I said, 'You need to remain careful.'" Feldman last week also claimed that ESPN The Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman "never really let him come back to work." But Millman said that Feldman "was very concerned about showing up at the Southeastern Conference media event and having other reporters focus on him." In response to that, Feldman said, "That is complete B.S. I said to him that the least of my concerns coming out of this is press coverage." McBride wrote the "primary ethical failure still rests on ESPN's shoulders," since the net "should have never let Feldman do the book." But Feldman "should have recognized that in writing Leach's book, he was becoming too much of an insider on that topic, walling himself off from too many important stories." McBride added, "Now his conflicts are CBS Sports' problems" (ESPN.com, 9/2). In Toronto, Raju Mudhar wrote, "This sordid affair remains can’t-miss stuff for anyone wanting to watch a sports-ethics car-crash in progress" (TORONTO STAR, 9/5).
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