ESPN Covers Up For Rick Pitino In Extortion Case?

The most important thing I’ve learned in spending 16 years in the main media covering celebrity sports figures is that societal rules don’t apply to them.

Rick Pitino Pat Forde Karen Sypher

(ESPN’s Forde’s reportage on Pitino extortion case objective? Puh-leeze)

Take for instance Rick Pitino. The U of L coach recently accused a woman of extortion, which has since been widely reported by the main media. Apparently the case is so serious that the FBI is investigating.

So what’s it all about? Well if you watch ESPN or read ESPN.com, do the same of the Louisville media and/or everyone else in the main media, you have no clue.

But if you’re reading this, you of course understand precisely why blogs are now so popular. Any sports fan with an IQ above an eggplant immediately jumped on the web when they heard Pitino’s abridged accusation - and in about 45 seconds knew the juicy details.

Now, I can understand why local yocal Louisville media members are sandbagging the story in favor of Pitino. I worked as a media member in plenty of midsized markets like the ‘Ville and recognize that pandering to powerful, local celebrities trumps journalistic integrity - and the truth for that matter.

But ESPN’s coverage of the case is a different animal. We’re talking about the sports media outlet of record in our time. (Just ask them.) And as luck would have it, ESPN employs perhaps the most prominent Louisville journalist of the past decade: Pat Forde.

Not only was Forde a longtime sports columnist for the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL before jumping to ESPN, he also co-authored a book with Pitino. So if anyone could give us true insight into what’s really going on with Pitino’s extortion allegations, it’s Forde. Right?

WRONG.

Forde last night posted a piece on ESPN.com that included nothing from friend Pitino, and was bereft of a single meaningful detail. A mockery of those who took the time to read it. (Seriously, Pat, why did you bother?)

In the piece, Forde gives us Pitino’s already-widely-reported, censored side of what happened, but the accuser, Karen Sypher, gets minimized throughout the story and mocked by Forde for her phone etiquette at a Starbucks.

You would think that ESPN editorial, knowing that Forde has personally benefited financially from his relationship with Pitino (see book deal), would’ve brought in a more objective third party to cover the story.

But that would be forgetting that ESPN itself is in bed with Pitino, based on coverage of college basketball that nets big money for the WWL.

But why am I complaining? That’s one of the reasons you’re here. Thanks Pat!