Friday, April 18, 2008

Miguel Tejada and Gotcha Journalism

By now you have probably heard that Miguel Tejada is two years older than previously thought. He lied to the Oakland A's when he was first signed as an amateur because of the pressure to find a way out of poverty. The excuse doesn't make it right, although my guess is that the A's, or any of the teams that have signed or traded for him since, would not have changed their decision based on the two year jump in age (Houston might not have been willing to give up such a big package for him, but then again, we are talking about Ed Wade).

The issue for me, though, is how this story was broken (which makes this post less about baseball and more about journalism, sorry). ESPN set up an interview with Tejada and sat him down in front of a camera and asked him how old he is. Tejada seemed a bit confused by the line of questioning, expecting the interview to be about his new team or the start of the new season. When Tejada answered that he is 31, the questioner asked if he was sure and then pulled out a birth certificate showing that Tejada was born in 1974, not 1976. Tejada then became very confused, then upset. He said something to the effect of "I didn't come here to talk about this kind of thing," and then took off the lapel microphone and left.

This kind of journalism sickens me. The story is legitimate news, but why does ESPN think it has to pull the Jerry Springer move with Tejada to break it? They brought Tejada in under false pretenses and then ambushed him with embarrassing information. Is that entertainment? ESPN should be ashamed that they have turned to this kind of gutter journalism to get a cheap pop.

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