Monday, July 29, 2013

The media needs to slow its roll

On Monday, July 22nd, a story came out (broken by Vic Lombardi of 104.3FM The Fan and CBS 4 News) that Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller was in danger of being suspended four games by the NFL for being in "violation" of the NFL's drug program policy. In the subsequent whirlwind of media furor there was rampant speculation that Miller was busted for "testing positive" on a cornucopia of various drug cocktails ranging from marijuana to some idiots out there speculating about even harder and more dangerous drugs. It was out of control.

We at Colorado Sports Guys commented on this situation on Podcast #118 (you can listen right here) and we were speculating about Miller based on media reports; all of which turned out, with the benefit of letting the real process play out, to be erroneous.

Turns out Miller didn't test "positive" for drugs, but merely was in "violation" of the NFL drug policy, which basically means Miller either missed a drug test or was late to several tests or something along those lines. Being in violation of the actual drug program can mean a variety of things and all basically result in litigation by the NFL. Yet, Von did not test positive for anything. There are even some people out there who are reporting that Miller merely missed a test because he was in Afghanistan on a United Services Organization, aka USO, tour, and they fully expected the situation to be worked out by the NFL. Once news of this got leaked, all hell broke loose and it reflected poorly on us in the media who need to fill airspace or inches on a column talking about this situation.

There's nothing wrong with talking about the situation Miller is in which, regardless, would never have occurred if Miller wasn't in violation of the NFL drug policy two times before during his rookie campaign. However, the baseless accusations of various drugs and other elements like that painted a completely erroneous and somewhat slanderous portrait of Miller that simply was not true. There's a titanic difference between talking about how Miller's possible suspension from the Broncos will affect the team, to speculating that Miller was guilty of doing a vast assortment of drugs. This seems like something the local media (in particular) should take extra care in avoiding. This did not occur. Even a local radio station erroneously reported Miller was guilty of testing positive for marijuana and a form of MDMA that has become known by the slang name "Molly" (a form of ecstasy). At the current moment there has been no mea culpa from that particular station.

What does it all mean? Well, far be it from me to wag the long finger of moral certainty at people, but in the grand scheme of things this paints a poor picture of a media that desperately wants to be the "first" with the information. Rather than waiting to find out the actual details. What is particularly disturbing is this was perpetuated by the local media first and foremost. The ones who should take the most care should be those of us who cover the local teams. It's all well and good to start speculating about what this means to the Broncos (like the Tom Heckert and Matt Russell drunk driving incidents), but to essentially cast completely false aspersions on someone in the name of speculation is where the line should be drawn.

The local Denver media, we at CSG included, need to be held to a higher standard than yahoos in the national media. We are closer to the players and the teams, and therefore should be more careful. Regardless if Von Miller is suspended or not, we should at least proceed with the knowledge that we got it right ... not got it first.

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