ESPN’s Adam Schefter responds to criticism stemming from email to Bruce Allen

The NFL’s email scandal continued on Wednesday morning — not with former Raiders coach Jon Gruden, but with ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

According to a Tuesday report by the Los Angeles Times, Schefter in 2011 emailed an unpublished copy of a story he was writing for ESPN regarding the NFL lockout to then-Washington Football Team general manager Bruce Allen. In the correspondence, Schefter referred to Allen as “Mr. Editor” and invited editorial input on the story — an unethical practice in the field of journalism.

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“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter wrote Allen. “Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to file this to espn about 6 am (sic).”

Schefter has now officially responded to the criticism — which he said is fair — for that decision. He acknowledged that what he did was wrong, but also claimed it didn’t have an impact on the contents of his story.

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“Fair questions are being asked about my reporting approach on an NFL Lockout story from 10 years ago. Just to clarify, it’s common practice to verify facts of a story with sources before you publish in order to be as accurate as possible. In this case, I took the rare step of sending the full story in advance because of the complex nature of the collective bargaining talks. It was a step too far and, looking back, I shouldn’t have done it. The criticism being levied is fair. With that said, I want to make this perfectly clear: in no way did I, or would I, cede editorial control or hand over final say about a story to anyone, ever.”

Schefter’s comment at the end of his statement about not ceding editorial control is worth noting; he appeared to do just that in his email to Allen, when he said to “let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked.” Schefter in his statement said the decision was made for the story “to be as accurate as possible.”

His choice of wording is questionable, given that he committed a known violation of an ethical tenet of journalism. Regardless, this probably isn’t the last news to come from the emails collected during an investigation into the Washington Football Team’s workplace culture.

The investigation included reviews of some 650,000 emails, so it’s safe to assume there will be more leaks of those communications going forward.

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