A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jackass Much? Media Ethics Come into Question

I'm sure we're all up to speed on President Obama's "off-the-record" comments about Kanye West's antics at the MTV Video Music Awards. For those who have no clue what I'm talking about, here's a link that will get you up to speed.

Today, CNN released the video aid to the President's comment...

After the words left President Obama's mouth you could see his eyebrows shoot off his face. He could tell he may have made a boo-boo and frantically tried to eye everyone in the room as he begged that it be off the record and that the President be given "some slack."

The reason for Obama's frantic nature was not unwarranted... before a minute could pass, the following message hit more than a handful of "newsfeeds" on Twitter.com:

First of all, thanks Terry Moran! I hope you ethical obligations as a journalist flying out the window were worth the thousands of "followers" you picked up over the last few days! Though ABC's Moran attempted to remove the "tweet," he failed miserably.

I originally read Moran's tweet on Tuesday afternoon via the Drudge Report, which didn't surprise me. Matt Drudge never met a salacious story he didn't like... especially with a Democratic President involved. BUT, I didn't think much of it. I thought it was awesome that Obama watched the MTV Movie Awards and, like everyone else, was shocked by the Kanye outburst.

Later that evening, as I drove in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Sunrise Highway, 1010 WINS' (1010 AM, New York) evening anchor broke the story as "something we shouldn't know... but we do... so we're telling you." I nearly veered off the road when I heard this. Was this "off-the-record" comment really making drive time news casts? More so, what are the ethical implications of breeching an "off-the-record" comment?

Obviously, Terry Moran was in the wrong here. The video clearly shows President Obama frantically attempt to quell the cantor throughout the room before it even began. Moran, however, completed his witty tweet...


Is it okay that CNN, and the other major players in the network news realm took this breech and ran with it? The video above was obviously just scrap that was meant to be cut for the evening news... not something that would hit national news coverage by this evening!

I've personally experienced comments like this while covering MLB, NBA, and NHL games. Sure, sometimes athletes say funny things between "on-the-record" comments. But, does that mean I try to make a name for myself by telling the Internet what David Ortiz really thinks about Manny Ramirez? No. I don't have a relationship with Ortiz, but I still respect his privacy in an "off-the-record" basis. It's just something I thought was journalism 101...

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