Starting off broadcasts with the words "a lot of people are saying", or quoting posts from the comments section, or citing editorialized and unconfirmed articles on Deadspin and TMZ is not "just reporting the story". ESPN has spent the last 3 weeks creating a narrative of the Winston situation which was light on facts but heavy on opinions, speculation and judgement. They had no additional access to the facts of this case than the rest of us did, yet they spent weeks broadcasting their theories about what could have happened that night, criticizing the actions of those involved in the subsequent investigation and determining what the punishment should be for a person who had not even been charged.
In full Nancy Grace Headline News CourtTV - style, they have dragged a man's name through the mud, openly challenged the integrity of a police department and State Attorney's office, as well as painted an entire fan-base as a bunch of meatheads who would condone sexual assault all in the name of winning a National Championship.
Over the last 24 hours they have backed off somewhat in an attempt to backtrack on their remarks by saying that they never actually called Jameis Winston a rapist - I'm looking at you, Scott Van Pelt, Colin Cowherd and Paul Finebaum....Really?? For as many times as these commentators remarked in false self-deprication that they were not qualified to make judgements about such serious subject matter, they filled up a whole lot of airtime doing just that.
On Thursday, the state announced their decision that they did not have sufficient evidence to charge Jameis Winston with a crime. THAT is the fact of this case ESPN should be reporting....over and over again, on a loop, on their crawl and for good measure, mention it everyday in their SportsCenter rundown for the next month. What may have happened that night or what might happen in the future is not news. I have no idea what happened that night or in the days following and neither does ESPN....I have my opinion and clearly, so does ESPN. The difference is, my opinion is not disguised as news and broadcast to millions of people across the globe.