MEDIA MALPRACTICE AT IT’S FINEST


By now there is not a human being alive that has not heard something about the Jonathan Martin / Richie Incognito controversy surrounding the Miami Dolphins. The smear merchants in the national media, led by the likes of ESPN insider Adam Schefter, ESPN radio host Mike Greenberg and lawyer/ blogger Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com, have been writing, tweeting and dispensing as much “information” as possible – the truth be damned. But it hasn’t been just the national smear merchants; the local ones have been out in full force as well. And why not, they have been asked on national television shows, national radio stations and they have become household names as well. Everyone searching for his or her 15 minutes of fame.

The problem with the rush for sound bites and clicks however has been, in a lot of cases, the truth. Just think of some of the things the con artists have continually said, that have now been refuted, and curiously enough, some of the things that the media has seemed to ignore.

We were originally told that Jonathan Martin met with Coach Joe Philbin in the spring and told him about the allegations of being bullied by Richie Incognito. ESPN ran out with some strong words like “cover up” and "lack of leadership" but later we learned that that meeting never took place. We’ve been told for weeks that the coaching staff gave the directive to Incognito to “toughen” Martin up. In fact both local and national media a like have talked about who ordered the “CODE RED”. But now according to Armando Salguero, of the Miami Herald, there is no reference, no text, and no order that ever took place. (Or at the least cannot be proven in any way.) And Richie Incognito did not site it in his recent grievance filed against the Dolphins.  And of course there was the story that constant fan and media punching bag, General Manager Jeff Ireland, told Martin’s agent, before Martin snapped, that he should just punch Incognito in the nose. Then it changed to after he snapped,  (the time frame being very important) and now the context has changed to more of a question, as in “if Richie was bothering him so much why didn’t Martin say anything or confront Incognito and just stand up for himself." Big difference. So the original media meme of the Dolphins organization knew for months, ordered a code red and management suggesting handling violence with violence, followed by a dramatic cover up has now turned into nobody knew, including the players and coaches around him, nobody suggested violence and there was no cover up. Not as interesting of a story, huh.

But what about the things we haven’t heard as much from the media. First, there was a supposed text from Martin to Incognito after he left the team saying he does not blame Incognito, just the "culture of the locker room."  That would immediately turn this into a mental health issue, but that does not ensure clicks.

Further, nobody in the media has really looked at the selection of David Cornwell as Martin’s attorney. This is has always been interesting to me. Cornwell was a finalist for the NFLPA’s job of Executive Director, but lost out to DeMaurice Smith and has been a critic of both since. He has also had an ongoing feud with super agent Drew Rosenthaus. Just look at the athletes he has represented and cases he has represented them in.  He is currently Alex Rodriguez attorney appealing the Yankees third basemen’s 212 game drug suspension. Wide Receiver Donte Stallworth called him from the back of a patrol car when he killed a man and was later found guilty of DUI manslaughter. He represented quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a supposed rape case in 2008, it later got resolved. MLB outfielder Ryan Braun originally used Cromwell when he tested positive for PED’s, they successfully dragged the reputation of the piss collector through the mud, and got Braun’s positive test and suspension overturned. A year later, Braun willingly took MLB’s suspension when his name came up in the Biogenesis Investigation. The list goes on and on. Cornwell is known by athletes as the one to get  “when you are in trouble.” The Washington Post did a story on him in 2008 comparing him to Harvey Keitel’s character in Pulp Fiction, Winston Wolf or the ‘cleaner.” Why would someone who was supposedly a victim of bullying need a lawyer who is know for getting athletes out of trouble?  A professional spin-doctor? The media seems disinterested.

Another story the media shows little interest in is Jane Howard Martin, Jonathan’s mother. We have heard plenty about how she went to Harvard and is a corporate attorney for Toyota. What we haven’t heard as much is how she was a premier attorney on work place discrimination and harassment for 20 years before that. In fact in 2002 she wrote an article published in USA Today entitled ““Stop workplace harassment in your company”.  That sounds like more than a coincidence to me, but obviously not so much for the national media.    
       
We may never know what really happened between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. The media has already played the roll of judge, jury and executioner. The media took this story, had a meme about bullying and ran with it from day one. The truth was and still is secondary to them.  They painted a portrait of a locker room run by Neanderthals, picking on the gentle, educated soft spoken giant, and a front office and coaching staff that was cognizant and just as guilty as the Neanderthals, and either facilitated it or just looked the other way. In reality, at best it seems like a difference between two employees that nobody knew was going on, possibly even one of the employees. Or at worst, a well-orchestrated plan to feed a bogus story to the media that the supposed victims knew the media would love and run with.           

Carl C. Crowley
@carlccrowley                       

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