Why is ESPN Being Deceptive on Jack Del Rio?
Why can't the media just trust us with the obvious?
A reader asked for my take on the controversy involving Washington Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Actually, because I have savvy readers, I was asked specifically to address ESPN’s coverage of it.
Why is the difference worth highlighting here? Because, while you can object to the Commanders’ harsh punishment for Del Rio referring to the Capitol riot as a “dustup,” one that he apparently thinks less severe than the summer of 2020 riots, the football team’s prerogatives were pretty clear.
As much as I favor expansive speech norms in corporate culture, on all sides, I also live in reality, a reality where I don’t make the rules outside of this website. So, much as my preference is to let people pontificate, absent consequences, I also harbor some, “What the fuck was this guy doing?”
By glibly tweeting on the election denial riot and later appraising it as a “dustup,” Jack Del Rio created a problem for his franchise, one that threatens to muddle its stadium plans in Virginia. There’s much to be said about how such dynamics came to be, and whether the rules governing speech in corporate America are sane or even close to fair, but the Commanders’ actions make some sense within modern parameters. Whatever one thinks of the football team’s harsh $100,000 fine for Del Rio, it was clearly under a lot of pressure.
ESPN on the other hand, was, in theory, not under such pressure. Despite a lack of it, they and other media outlets chose to cover this controversy in an obviously dishonest way. They framed Del Rio’s comments as even more shocking than his original words, which carried plenty of shock value on their own. These outlets could have easily just hung Del Rio with those words, relied on how offensive they were to so many, and called it a day.
But, these media publications didn’t do that. Instead, they crafted a fake narrative around Del Rio’s legitimately buffoonish commentary, one that any sentient adult could tell to be fake.
Actually, let’s be a little more blunt: ESPN lied about what Jack Del Rio said, or at the very least accidentally misled. And to what end, really? What’s the point of a news operation telling a transparent untruth about something everyone can easily verify? And what does this one, dumb controversy reveal about mainstream media in 2022? Let’s get into it.