Sep 17, 2015 6:04 PM

NH1 News Investigates Integrity of the Game Part 3: Reporting on Patriots causing friction inside ESPN

CONCORD - ESPN's slanted Patriot's coverage has caused friction and controversy inside and outside of the company.

After last week's report where ESPN used 90 anonymous sources to allege Patriots' cheating and an NFL cover up, New England beat reporter, Mike Reiss wrote a seven point piece with his reaction. Hours after the story was published ESPN gave his story a "tighter edit" as they called it.

READ Part 1: New England Patriots vs. ESPN and the media

They removed two points that undermined the original ESPN story. One question is "Who leaves play sheets around?" It referred to the notion that Patriots' staff would steal play sheets. The other points out that it's easy to target a winning team, like New England who has won four Super Bowl championships in fourteen years.

Earlier in the year, ESPN tweeted about Tom Brady on Reiss' company account that Reiss later denied ever reporting. Some say that furthered the narrative that there's an underlying agenda at the sports network. ESPN staffers seem reluctant to address the company's journalistic integrity. On WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show, Sal Saolantonio, a veteran personality at ESPN, deflected questions about Reiss and defended Chris Mortensen's inaccurate reporting.

READ Part 2: Why has Spygate resurfaced?

"Do you think it's appropriate for the editors to take things out of Mike Reiss' story that reflected poorly on ESPN?" asked the hosts. "You think that's good journalism?"

"I'm not going to answer that question again," Paolantonio responded referring to his comments earlier explaining he backs up all of ESPN's employees.

One former player we spoke to, Tom Lynch expressed his frustration with the situation. "It just seemed they were trying to put one side of it out there and they really stuck to it even when the evidence showed up that it wasn't quite true," Lynch said. "It wasn't altered, and it wasn't retracted. That's the thing that bothers me."

Co-writer Seth Wickersham said there was not a memo sent to ESPN employees with guidelines of how to respond to backlash.

" I mean, we get requests and I've done my best- I mean I'm speaking to you- we do our best to fulfill requests," Wickersham said.


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