ESPN Slammed by Poynter Over Jalen Rose D.U.I.

With no talent disclosure policy, network “got beat on its own in-house story”

ESPN has been slammed by the Poynter Review Project — the network's new outsourced ombudsman — over coverage of a drunk driving citation received by one of its NBA analysts, Jalen Rose

“ESPN got beat on its own in-house story,” Poynter’s editors wrote on their ESPN blog, when a Detroit television station broke the news about Rose, and not ESPN.

Rose’s DUI occurred on March 11th, but the Detroit station did not discover it until Tuesday (March 29th).

Poynter criticized ESPN — not for covering up the story, which they concluded ESPN did not do — but for not having a policy requiring on-air talent to disclose potentially embarrassing off-air incidents.

“ESPN encourages its ‘talent’ — those employees and contractors who are paid to appear on the air or write for the Web or magazine — to tell their bosses about potentially embarrassing personal issues that might become public,” Poynter wrote. “But no written policy explicitly requires them to come forward.”

ESPN, however, was — refreshingly, publicly — highly critical of Rose.

"We’ve been pretty clear since last year when we had a pretty long meeting with all the talent," Laurie Orlando, senior vice president for talent development, told Poynter. "We said to them we need you to disclose your situations. I know Jalen was here in house for those conversations."

Orlando said ESPN learned about Rose’s arrest when his agent called her “as WDIV in Detroit was preparing to air the story and publish it on its site. WDIV then aired the story on its 6 p.m. evening news posted it online and “TMZ picked up the story an hour later.”

ESPN, though, did not post the news until 8:45.

“This was obviously a story ESPN should have reported first,” Poynter noted. “The network pays analysts such as Rose to offer insight regarding athletes — including those involved in off-the-field incidents — which raises the question: Why didn’t Rose tell anyone at ESPN immediately after the accident?”

Because, uh, he didn’t have to.

Rose's lack of transparency is somewhat ironic, considering he was brutally honest in ESPN's recent documentary on Rose's famed Univ. of Michigan college basketball team, "The Fab Five." (“For me, Duke was personal. I hated Duke. And I hated everything I felt Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.”)

ESPN executives are now mulling how to discipline Rose — if they even can, since “there’s nothing in the contracts for Rose or anyone else on air at ESPN explicitly requiring them to notify management when their personal life is likely to become a news story.”