Mitchell Report undermines Mitchell

Mitchell Report goes deeper than you may think
A-Rod's new deal makes sense


For all his experience, for all the years spent in public service and in the private sector, Senator George Mitchell still has no idea how the American media works. Right now, this lack of understanding is costing him and his precious report dearly.

Yesterday, during his staid press conference, George Mitchell stressed the future over the past. Pay attention to and follow my recommendations, he said more than once. So the next day, of course, all of the newspapers feature on their front covers pictures of the big guns in the report with nary a mention of his recommendations. Even ESPN, with their limitless internet resources, buried the recommendations underneath a giant picture of the stars named in the report.

And here we arrive at that same point I made yesterday: By naming names, George Mitchell produced a report that was counterproductive to its intent and message. By his own admission, somewhere from at least six to eight percent of Major League Baseball players used steroids. This report captures about 1 percent of all Major Leaguers over the time period identified in it.

So in naming names, Mitchell spoon-fed the media their top stories for a slow Friday. Splashed across newspaper covers nationwide are Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada and Eric Gagne. Never mind that the report seems to cover five of baseball’s 30 teams. Never mind that Mitchell got two sources to talk due to either plea deals with the government or the threat of federal prosecution. Never mind that Sammy Sosa’s name is curiously absent from a story about steroids. Mitchell found a few big names and named them.

Tomorrow, this story will be off the front page. We do have after all some hotly-contested primaries coming up, a climate change conference in Bali, a shaky economy and a war going on. And when the papers arrive tomorrow, we’ll once again see no mention of the recommendations that Mitchell has set forth in the report.

Blame it on George for his naivete or blame it on Bud. Selig wanted his names. He wanted the past to be utterly exposed, and what he got was a media storm and probably around 15 percent of the names of those who used steroids.

Baseball will recover. It always does, but what should have been a day for looking forward and looking at a report that could have been effective with names redacted instead became a day for condemning the past. All we’ve learned is that the media loves to tear down big stars. Somehow, George Mitchell and his crack team of investigators didn’t know that two days ago.

Mitchell Report goes deeper than you may think
A-Rod's new deal makes sense
  • Rob

    “By naming names, George Mitchell produced a report that was counterproductive to its intent and message. ”

    Very well said.

  • Kevin23

    This was a great post. I’m speechless. And I just had to comment to say that.

  • Mitchell’s Eleven

    VERY well said. i’ve come down on you guys a few times, but an excellent job here with this post.

  • yankz

    Totally agree. If the list was as exhaustive as possible, then I can see them releasing the names. But this was just ridiculous. Hundreds of cheaters let out a collective sigh of relief last night.

  • NC Saint

    I was stunned when I saw the Daily News’s headline. I’m usually all for those tabloids. People get too caught up by the fact that they are fascist, xenophobic, hate rags, and lose sight of the big picture: they write funny headlines.

    But this seems like a huge mistake. It says ‘Prob Says Clemens, Pettitte Injected Steroids’. From what I saw, the probe said no such thing about Pettitte. He used HGH for a bit. How is that not straight-up libel?

  • Alvaro

    The idea that Mitchell didn’t know the sensational (and often innaccurate – I’ve already heard at least 2 “journalists” say that Pettitte was doing steroids) nature of the media coverage is hard to believe. He knew how this would be covered and so did Selig. They wanted this.

    So I guess McGwire, Sosa and Palmiero get their ticket punched for the HOF? After all, they’re not in the vaunted Mitchell Report right?

  • steve

    is anyone else a huge seinfeld fan? everytime someone says “name name” I can’t help to think of the episode with the race, and communism, with the chines delivery man, “he name name”

    maybe i’m just obsessed with seinfeld. i think I have a problem.

    either way, great post.

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  • Travis G.

    when i first saw the guy’s name was McNamee i thought it was a joke.

    ‘You got me blacklisted at Hop Sings?!’

  • LiveFromNewYork

    If you didn’t buy steroids from a trainer in NY obviously you didn’t use. It’s so focused on NY that it’s just terribly unfair. I can’t believe that the New York papers didn’t freak out about that. Usually they are very protective about NY and any bias against it which is obviously here.

  • barry

    The economy is looking up! Probably thanks to Jeter’s extensive spending in the services industry :-D

  • Todd

    Excellent post!

  • It’sMeSNITCHES!!!

    Im waiting for the Onion to put in their two cents.

  • It’sMeSNITCHES!!!

    That sounds more like the New York Post. The same idiots that put the A-Rod/Canada/Strip club nonsense on the front page.

  • It’sMeSNITCHES!!!

    ^ That was supposed to be a reply to NC Saint’s post ^

  • NC Saint

    I put the two in the same category. They almost always run the same stories and compete for the more provocative headline. In this case, though, it was the News that had a headline which is a direct, uncontroversial lie. Whatever Pettitte did or didn’t do, the report never says he injected steroids. The headline says that it does. There is no wriggle room here, so I don’t see why this isn’t more of an issue.

  • Michael

    Here’s the problem with your analysis.
    Had the Mitchell report been released without the names., the sports news last Thursday would have been:

    1. Arod deal complete
    2. Patriots expected to run up score vs Jets
    3. oh, by the way old George Mitchell has released his report

    The names are why there was no much advance coverage and why ESPN devoted hours and hours of live programming.
    Mitchell, being the wise politican and media user he is, knew that and mentioned as he spoke — paraphrasing — yeah have fun with the names but don’t forget to notice my recommendations.
    The animal that it is, the media needs new and exciting details — the names. There isn’t much that’s new in the recommendations as sound as they may be.
    The report did accomplish what you wanted, even if the guts of it was overshadowed by the naming of names. It did get the issue of doping in baseball back to the front burner and seems to have created the atmosphere for the Players Association to make additional concessions. History shows how tough that is. Give Mr. Mitchell credit for that.