A year ago in April, we issued a Tabloid Declaration of Independence. Spurred on by a winter of rumors, some true, others nowhere near reality, we declared that with a few exceptions — Mark Feinsand’s news reporting being the most notable — we would no longer be linking to stories in The Post or The Daily News.
At the time, Joe wrote, “Every day, these publications assail our better senses and bring us little in the way of opinion and insight. We are constantly bombarded with fabricated rumors, flimsy analysis, and half-baked opinions that do not pass muster to the educated fan.”
We felt that we could provide intelligent and well-reasoned analysis that far eclipsed what many of the tabloid writers were producing on a daily basis. Our analysis would be as fair as we could make it and our reasoning as transparent as possible.
By all accounts, we had a successful summer doing so, and over time, we struck a balance between accepting what the tabloids say as analysis and what they report — or sometimes “report” — as rumors. In fact, we’ve even linked to a Post piece over the last few weeks about concerns surround Joba’s velocity in Spring Training. While those concerns may be George King’s and King’s lone, they deserved a nod.
Yesterday, though, I was served a firm reminder of our tabloid ban when seven or eight RAB readers e-mailed me the same story and a few others linked to it in the comments. That story dealt with A-Rod, of course, and it was printed not in the sports section of The Daily News but rather on George Rush’s gossip pages. In a nutshell, Rush claims that A-Rod is one of the Spitzer Madam’s other clients and that A-Rod allegedly told one of the high-priced prostitutes that he took steroids. (It’s here if you insist on reading it.)
In a time when New York City’s mass transit is in the midst of a financial crisis, as the nation’s economy founders, a gossip column’s story about a baseball player’s hiring a prostitute is somehow considered front page news. What’s next? Dog bites man?
Not only am I reminded why we eschew the tabloids as reliable news sources that strive to bring a level of intelligence to the daily discourse, but I again see the A-Rod Double Standard at work. Will George Rush look into the lives of the other Major League Baseball players, the vast majority of whom have probably earned or paid for their fair share of one-night stands? Will we see a catalog of Joba’s exploits? Jeter’s ladies? Or do we just get tales of A-Rod because he’s the $270 million whipping boy?
I don’t even think I want to know the answers to those questions.
In the end, then, at the end of March, 11 months after issuing a tabloid ban, we’re right back where we started. If sports gossip is your game, try Deadspin or any of the countless other sites that have reached for the lowest common denominator of reporting. We’ll keep trying to raise the discourse, and while we don’t always succeed and while we’ve made our mistakes, the least we’re going to do is rely on sourced articles that hack-job gossip pieces with dubious motives behind them.