Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

ESPN makes Ben Roethlisberger news by ignoring it

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Thursday that

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Thursday that allegations by a Lake Tahoe casino hostess that he raped her a year ago are "reckless and false." (July 23)

Below is my official take on the ESPN/Ben Roethlisberger brouhaha. I wrote it for the newspaper but was told there was no room for it. That is why God created blogs.

Even if you accept at face value ESPN’s rationale for not initially reporting allegations of sexual assault against Ben Roethlisberger, its let’s-be-careful-out-there approach at best was naïve and impractical.

Best evidence: The fact ESPN barred its outlets from reporting on or talking about the story only served to bring more attention to it and its pal from Pittsburgh.

Given the nature of modern sports media and ESPN’s status as its most powerful purveyor, ignoring a story in most cases won’t work. The company would be better served using its influence and resources to confirm, clarify or counter reports than to squelch them.

Not every allegation against a public figure deserves mass distribution, certainly, but this one was far enough along to demand a contribution from Bristol.

It is part of ESPN’s burden and responsibility as the self-described World Wide Leader.

ESPN executive editor (and former Newsday sports editor) John Walsh told WFAN's Mike Francesa Thursday that this episode might make the network rethink its policy in the face of modern media realities.

I didn't see the Walsh audio on WFAN's site. But here he is on Dan Patrick's radio show.

Francesa's interview with Isles boss Charles Wang is here.

Photo: AP

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