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ESPN would hardly know what to do about its NFL coverage without Adam Schefter.
There’s more to Schefter’s job than breaking news, either on social media or in the studio, but breaking news is why he’s paid the big bucks and has a massive Twitter following. If you care about pro football, you know his name.
Suddenly, though, Schefter’s credibility is being called into question, his report on Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury being latest “insider info” to raise some eyebrows.
Schefter linked Kingsbury to the Oklahoma University vacancy, and Kingsbury sort of denied it, but sort of didn’t, as OutKick’s Armando Salguero wrote in a telling column.
“I don’t get into those things,” Kingsbury said when asked about the Oklahoma job, via OutKick’s Nick Geddes “My sole focus the last couple of weeks has been the Chicago Bears, and after watching them on Thanksgiving, it needs to be … We’re in season, we’re 9-2, just not a topic I wanna touch on right now.”
Oklahoma has targeted Cardinals’ HC Kliff Kingsbury as one of the potential replacements for Lincoln Riley, league sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 28, 2021
Kingsbury has one year remaining on his contract after this season.
All of it seems like some larger scheme — concocted by Kingsbury’s representatives and carried out by Schefter as a favor — to get Kingsbury a contract extension with Arizona. (Kingsbury has one year remaining on his current deal.)
“Giving Schefter the benefit of the doubt here, sure … someone at Oklahoma did a temperature check on Kingsbury’s interest in the job,” wrote Ben Koo of Awful Announcing. “But as we all know, it’s not really a plausible scenario and Schefter is pretty clearly being used to help Kingsbury and his agent procure an extension with this info now public.
“Maybe Schefter owed a favor. Maybe he was banking one for later. Maybe he thought this .25% chance this could happen qualified it as actual news. Either way, the report was mocked far and wide on Twitter.”
Koo sure is right about that. The social media mob had a field day with Schefter. In this instance, though, it felt warranted.
"Adam tweet this."— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) November 28, 2021
"OK buddy." https://t.co/4TksP6v7xW
Overall, it’s been a rough year for Schefter in the credibility department. At the start of the month, he was forced to apologize after Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was accused of assault and battery. Rather than researching the story, it seemed, Schefter merely relied on Cook’s agent to relay that it was Cook who had actually been assaulted.
That “report” came about a month after it was revealed that Schefter emailed a copy of his pre-published story on the Washington Football Team (then Redskins) to team executive Bruce Allen. Schefter even referred to Allen as “Mr. Editor” in the email, a journalistic no-no and worthy of the criticism it received.
As always in these situations…think about who benefits from this getting out there https://t.co/nK8coybx5o— trey wingo (@wingoz) November 28, 2021
The Kingsbury report is fairly transparent as well, even if Schefter hasn’t been caught referring to Kingsbury’s agent as an editor. ESPN, of course, remains silent on these matters, realizing that clicks and buzz count for a lot. Like it does with most things that warrant questioning about ethics, ESPN generally can be relied upon to simply ignore it and hope it goes away.
I love when Schefty goes full “get agents more money for their clients so the agents will keep giving me info” mode pic.twitter.com/aV6PVv5vyi— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) November 28, 2021
“What’s most interesting to me is if ESPN and Schefter perhaps begin to think through the viability and sustainability of the newsbreaker role, which is nowadays a hybrid between journalism and tweeting things that are texted to you because you work at ESPN, your social media following is the largest, and you are generally trusted,” Koo wrote. “The position does require good reporting skills, but also seems to have devolved into a dick measuring contest that requires your agency to email team officials and agents a powerpoint deck on why they should leak to you.”
Well said. And Schefter, Adria Wojnarowski, Jeff Passan and other ESPN insiders need to start realizing there’s difference between reporting truths and doing favors for and with the people they cover.
Until then, they deserve every ounce of scrutiny that comes their way.
This makes a lot of sense if you consider that the only requirement for a Schefter tweet is a text from an agent. https://t.co/kjn06V0aaR— Elika Sadeghi (@elikasadeghi) November 28, 2021