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Source: ESPN issues “do not report” alert on Roethlisberger story

We probably should be glad that ESPN has opted not to acknowledge the sexual assault civil lawsuit filed against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Since their audience won’t get any information about the story from ESPN, maybe a nice chunk of their audience will come here for it.

And maybe they won’t go back.

Though we still don’t know precisely why ESPN hasn’t acknowledged the existence of the lawsuit, we know a lot more about the “how”.

A media source tells us that, late last night, ESPN issued a “do not report” memo to all of its outlets and reporters. The directive came without explanation. “Even some of the reporters are wondering why,” the source said, “but haven’t been told.”

The same strategy was employed last year, in response to Jay Glazer’s report regarding Brett Favre’s alleged efforts to help the Lions beat the Packers.

As we reported at the time, the memo said the following: “WE HAVE BEEN TOLD BY RELIABLE SOURCES THIS REPORT IS NOT TRUE. We did NOT report it yesterday. Today, the NFL responded to the report, saying even if Favre did this he did not break any league rules. We are NOT reporting it today, because that would mean airing the erroneous report. DO NOT REPORT IT.”

This time around, ESPN can’t claim that the report of a civil suit alleging sexual assault isn’t true. Clearly, it is; Roethlisberger has hired attorney David Cornwell, who has denied the allegations in a statement initially sent to us, and then sent to other media outlets. And we’ve seen, and reported on, the contents of the complaint.

So in the absence of a legitimate reason from ESPN, we assume that there’s some other agenda at play here.

If nothing else, it gives Don Ohlmeyer plenty of fodder for his initial ombudsman column.