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SANTA CLARA – After first reporting that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was under investigation for a sexual assault in Miami, TMZ was the first to report it, but had little to no facts to back up its scoop.
Currently in the midst of seeking $18 million annually from the Niners, this story could not come at a more inopportune time for the third-year quarterback out of Nevada, and thanks to the allegations of he along with two other NFL players in fellow Niner wideout Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette of the Seattle Seahawks, things could only get dicer.
Or would it?
This is not the first time that TMZ has either falsely or inaccurately reported major news stories. Based on this latest debacle with Kaepernick, they could very well find themselves in big trouble if they are not careful, as from what it seems that they scoop was not only untrue, but a sad example of irresponsible journalism on their part.
For the record, this writer is a life-long and die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, thus, I have no attachment one way or another to Kaepernick or the Niners, yet as a member of the PFWA(Pro Football Writers’ Association) and as a journalist, it is not only my job to report facts, but also be an arbiter of truth and abide by a set of ethics.
With such an outlandish and over-sensationalist story merely an amateurish and sophomoric grab to get more clicks and views by inserting Kaepernick’s name in the headline, whatever credibility—if they ever had none before—deserves to be called into question and dismissed as nothing more than sensational gossip unsubstantial by and fact or truth to support it.
If that’s not the case, then why did TMZ tweak the headline of it’s own story?
Did they talk to any Miami police investigators, do they have a network of sources on the ground that can verify Kaepernick’s involvement?
If any of the answers to these questions is no, then TMZ will have a bigger problem on it’s hands besides Kaepernick based on his response to their report being “completely wrong” via Twitter if they cannot come forward with real facts.
It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.
Piece of advice to TMZ ; the first rule of journalism is to report the facts, plain and simple and as black and white as a rule could ever be.
In failing to do so in this instance, TMZ jumped the gun, and unless an actual arrest was made, should have stayed out of it entirely. Thanks to them, they have once again besmirched the name of good journalists and bloggers everywhere. As the founder and CEO of this online magazine, I stress and expect a high sense of accountability, ethics and accuracy from all InscriberMag staff .
Can TMZ provide the name of the alleged victim? Where are their witnesses that can verify Kapernick’s role in this alleged assault.
If TMZ hopes to avoid being a cautionary tale destined to the eternal dustbin of obscurity and being nothing more than a modern-day version of the National Enquirer, perhaps they would be wise to learn from the 1981 Sydney Pollack movie, Absence of Malice that starred Paul Newman and Sally Field, as a lesson for the consequences of falsely reporting stories.
Also, TMZ needs to understand that talking about an accusation of this nature is both very sensitive to both the accused and the victim and can ruin lives. For example, two-time Super Bowl champions Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis will forever be haunted by the specter of accusations of murder and rape.
No matter their many athletic accomplishments on the gridiron, many will choose to remember Roethlisberger for his alleged sexual assaults in Georgia and Nevada and Lewis’ testimony in a murder trial.
Whatever the outcome, there is always pain on both sides, and while Kaepernick isn’t a Boy Scout, he’s no sinner either. If TMZ is wise and values any sort of credibility, they would be wise to either confirm what they know or retract this story entirely to save face.
Robert D. Cobb Is the CEO/Founder/Senior Editor-In-Chief of the InscriberMag : Digital Magazine and a member of the PFWA(Pro Football Writers Association), please follow him on Twitter at @RC_TheInscriberMag