Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Or Maybe He Wanted To Help John Clayton Look Dumb

Ever noticed the question-and-answer sessions between reporters and anchors on news/sports programs? For example, when they bring in the "expert" to explain an ongoing story or to provide more information?

John Clayton is the NFL "expert" on ESPN's SportsCenter. Clayton was brought in this evening to provide insight on the latest developments in the Julius Peppers saga. To sum up, Peppers wants to be traded from the Carolina Panthers and has a four-team wish list. ESPN reported this about a month ago, and the only team identified on his wish list was Dallas.

Today, there is a story that says that the Patriots are one of the four teams on Peppers' list. This story comes a day after another story claimed the Pats were close to trading a 2nd-round draft pick for Peppers.

On tonight's 6 p.m. EDT SportsCenter, anchor Brian Kenny asked Clayton "who the four teams are" to which Peppers would accept a trade. Clayton's response: "it's irrelevant...if the Panthers don't want to trade him, it's not going to happen."

In other words, "I don't know." But Clayton couldn't just say that, could he? Never mind that every report regarding this story quotes a source "close to Peppers" who has identified the Cowboys, the Patriots, and two unidentified NFC teams as the four teams. Why doesn't Clayton say that? Perhaps because it's not a story that ESPN broke? The original story is a month old. The only thing different about the story now is that we know a second team (the Patriots) that Peppers would accept going to in a trade.

The typical rule for this type of interaction between the anchor and a reporter is for the reporter to feed the question to the anchor before they go on the air. This is so the anchor doesn't ask a question the reporter has no answer for. Did this not happen here? Kenny's focus was on the four-team list, while Clayton's focus was on saying that the deal is unlikely to happen.

It would just be nice for Clayton to admit when he doesn't know something, which would likely happen a lot.

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