WNBC's Bogus Steroids Scoop

Pujols, Nomar, Varitek on phony Mitchell list published by station

View Document

WNBC's Bogus Steroids Scoop

DECEMBER 14--Shortly after ESPN broke the news yesterday that Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte would be nailed in the Mitchell Report, WNBC-TV, the NBC affiliate in New York, blew the story wide open.

'Newschannel 4's Jonathan Dienst has obtained the expected list of current and former major league players linked to steroids, according to George Mitchell's investigation,' reported the station's web site at 11:23 AM. The WNBC story then unspooled a list of 75 purported juicers, including Albert Pujols, Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Milton Bradley, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Trot Nixon, Mike Cameron, Brady Anderson, Albert Belle, and Kyle Farnsworth.

The WNBC exclusive, which is reprinted here, was posted seven minutes after an identical list of names was published by the sports blog Deadspin, which reported that it had been forwarded the names by 'about 25 different people' during the preceding hour. The list, which was whipping around via e-mail, 'could very likely be one of those Web urban legends that somehow got around,' Deadspin cautioned.

WNBC, though, showed no such reserve. The station reported that it had received the list from 'two separate sources' (which was still 23 'sources' fewer than Deadspin). But after WNBC posted the list, baseball officials began refuting the story, with the station reporting that Major League Baseball brass said there were 'several discrepancies between the list posted and Mitchell's list.'

As it turned out, it was several dozen 'discrepancies,' with nearly half the names in WNBC's story not appearing in Mitchell's report. In fact, every name above--from Pujols to Farnsworth--can not be found in the Mitchell Report. The list was eventually yanked from the WNBC web site out of 'an abundance of caution,' the station reported in an updated story.

In an online apology, the station acknowledged that there were 'a number of discrepancies' between its list of names and those appearing in the Mitchell Report. 'We mistakenly listed several players that did not appear in the report,' added WNBC, which apparently thinks 'several' is an accurate way to describe the 41 players who they reported as cheats. (1 page)