ESPN’s silence on the Ben Roethlisberger lawsuit is no accident.
Pro Football Talk reports that ESPN “issued a ‘do not report’ memo to all of its outlets and reporters” late last night, with no explanation. A source told Pro Football Talk that “some of the reporters are wondering why, but haven’t been told.”
Last year, ESPN issued a similar memo in regards to allegations that former-Packer Brett Favre gave secrets to the Lions prior to their Week 2 game against the Packers. Their rationale at the time was that the story was not true.
In this case, as Pro Football Talk noted, “ESPN can’t claim that the report of a civil suit alleging sexual assault isn’t true.”
A source tells Deadspin that “it’s a previously established company policy to not report on civil cases involving athletes.” That did not stop ESPN from covering Randy Moss‘ alleged battery against a woman in January ’08. There were no criminal charges; Moss was slapped with a restraining order against the woman. ESPN also reported on a lawsuit against Marvin Harrison in a case that has not resulted in criminal charges.
ESPN even reported on the intention of a woman to sue Laker guard Shannon Brown over an alleged sex-related incident earlier this year.