Supplemental: Shira Springer fully believes!


We’re not sure what or why:
What did the NFL know and when did the NFL know it?

Like you, we have no idea. We’re in no position to say.

We are in position to watch TV and evaluate the journalistic conduct. In that respect, we were struck by something we saw on last night’s Maddow show.

Rachel was speaking with Shira Springer, sports enterprise reporter for the Boston Globe. Below, you see the first Q-and-A.

Springer’s statement struck us as odd:
MADDOW (9/11/14): So tonight we have the owner of the Ravens, as well as the NFL itself, disputing this report from the AP that the league was sent this explosive tape of Ray Rice beating his fiancée months ago, well before it became public this week. Where does this stand right now in terms of what is known about the league’s behavior and what still needs to be proven?

SPRINGER: Well, I think what we know about the league’s behavior, just from its track record, is that they do seem to have an arrogance about them and they think they can look the other way, turn people’s focus the other way, and not confront issues straight on. I fully believe that somebody in the NFL did know or did see this tape and that they are trying to cover it up. I think more about that needs to be proven though at this point.
On a journalistic basis, we thought Springer’s answer was odd. To watch the full segment, click here.

We have no trouble believing that NFL officials “have an arrogance about them,” including a desire to avoid confronting issues straight on.

On the other hand, we often notice journalists who seem to have similar instincts. In this instance, we were struck by Springer’s rather ardent declaration:

“I fully believe that somebody in the NFL did know or did see this tape and that they are trying to cover it up.”

Is that a journalistic statement? On what basis does Springer “fully believe” that someone in the NFL saw the tape and that someone is trying to cover it up?

It’s certainly possible that such things are true. But on what basis does Springer “fully believe” these (rather imprecise) statements?

Who is Springer actually talking about? Did Roger Goodell see the tape? Is he the one who is trying to cover it up? Or is someone else in the NFL trying to cover things up from him?

It’s a basic journalistic skill: you’re supposed to be able to tell the difference between the things you actually know and the things that aren’t known yet. Springer sounded very ardent about the fullness of her belief. But on what basis did she fully believe it?

Rachel never asked. She simply moved to the next question.

The exchange we’ve posted wasn’t a journalistic exchange. We’re not sure exactly what you’d call it.

Basically, everyone knows who the designated bad guys are in the current chase. The guest came on and threw daggers at them. It’s a standard way to do cable.

Let's convert this to Watergate lingo:

What does Springer fully believe and on what basis does she “fully believe” it? And if more of this matter needs to be proven, why does Springer say that she “fully believes” anything at all?

Journalists aren’t supposed to “fully believe.” When journalists start “fully believing,” we all end up in trouble.

Journalists aren’t supposed to “fully believe;” they’re supposed to state the proven facts. When journalists move beyond that point, why can’t a person politely suggest that they may have an arrogance about them, just from their track record?

Why we mention this: We're so old that we can remember when the Shira Springers all fully believed that Al Gore said he invented the Internet, along with about three hundred other mandated full beliefs.

Al Gore hired a woman to teach him how to be a man! Back then, the Springers fully believed it, would say it on TV.

Can we talk? According to the civics books, journalists are supposed to develop suspicion about full belief.


  1. So the law enforcement officer not only says he sent the tape, but he kept an April 9 voicemail from the NFL acknowleging receipt, and that's not proof enough for Somerby?

    And thus it becomes just like "Gore invented the internet"?

    1. "That's not proof enough for Somerby?" The question is, proof of what? I thought it was clear that the issue is not whether the NFL received the tape, but whether there's proof that it was passed along to the higher-ups or whether it hit a dead end with the employee who received it. The voicemail doesn't suggest anything about what happened to the video after it was received.

    2. My guess is some underpaid NFL person, probably a woman, since they do not place the same value on the institutional value of the NFL to the American way of life and only earn 77 cents on the dollar, sold the tape to TMZ.

    3. kholmst, go review Goodell's actions and various statements since this whole thing broke before you attempt to excuse it any further.

    4. Nice thinslicing kholmst. The blogger would be proud of you.

    5. That's right, kholmst. How dare you question the evidence.

  2. Would that Bob had shown a little more suspicion --- or maybe common sense:

    1. Until this moment, Anonymous, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. ... At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

      But good God! As everyone knows except MSNBC pundits, Zimmerman wasn't told by the dispatcher that he should stay in his car. The exchange in question came later, after he was out of his truck.

      In truth, it's sobering and a bit disturbing—to see once again, after all these years, what we liberals are secretly like.

  3. OMB (Examples of Bad Human Reasoning from OTB)

    Only a journalist suffering from an afflicition with alliteration would boil down Al Gore's claim of "creating the internet" to "inventing the internet."

    We're so old that we can remember when the Bob Somerby's and his followers all fully believed that Al Gore was one fourth right when he said he and Tipper were the models for Love Story. Why? Because Al reminded Eric Segal over the phone that is what a Nashville Tennessean reporter wrote a quarter century before while Segal was on a book tour. And with that reminder, a light clear as a bell went off like a lightening bolt, flooding Segal's memory cells with full and accurate recollection not only of the interview, but of the erroneous article written based upon it.

    1. Well, an NFL player punches his wife out, and what does this remind Somerby of?

      Of course, Al Gore.

    2. MRL

      As if no journalists used the "inventing the internet' version? The Howler went on & on (as I'm sure you know) about the media changing "creating" to "inventing." I'm not sure how the Erich Segal story is related to this blog post. It seems to be thrown in just to express the usual contempt for Somerby, but at least it was well-written, as usual.

    3. You know, it is a damn good thing the guys who rewrote the Bible for jolly old King James didn't change God "created" to God "invented." Say, didn't Al go to Divinity school for a period of time before he became a member of the Guild?

    4. A year at Vanderbilt. What's your point?

    5. And what's your point, KZ? That Erich Segal was wrong about his own book? Stick was spell casting. I liked your contribution as Jeffrey Dowling.

    6. ALAS, deadrat!

      Like Mayor Sokolich, Author Segal Seems to Change His Story!

      We get this from a very reliable source. When he credited Al Gore for being 25% right for allegedly telling a New York Times reporter he based Oliver Barrett IV on Albert Gore, Jr., Erich Segal seemed to contradict earlier statements made "for the record" about who the mystery man was behind the endearing fictional rebel against daddyism.

      Just a year before he did a "CMA" favor for then VP Gore, Segal tabbed someone else as his inspiration:

      It would appear Segal wrote a letter to legendary DC private eye Terry Lenzner telling him he was Ollie!

      To us, it sounds like the author is changing his story. That said, BOB seems to understand the process by which story grows.

      BOB ends this morning’s post with reference to Watergate, in which Lenzner play a crucial role. He throws in a couple of "lies" told about Gore. But he never suggests, in any way, that the lie that started it all, Gore's claim to be the model for Love Story, was, possible, really a lie after all.

      Gack! Did BOB ever cover this revealing but unwelcome story when it broke in 2013? We find no mention in TDH article of Terry Lezner's name at all! Why has this story disappeared when it was covered in the Style section of the Washington Post, which BOB reads to denounce religiously?

      As a courtesy, we’ll assume BOB noticed! But this sort of scam is quite routine when we watch story grow. We only bring it up now because the story Al was 25% right continues to stalk Howler posts to this day.

      (With a stylistic nod to the work of R. Somerby from his post of 1/13/2014)

    7. At first I was going to ask whether you could be any dumber. Then I thought that might be unkind since you could be suffering from some cognitive disorder. Finally I remembered that you're from out of town, way out of town.

      Gore mentions offhand to a reporter that he's heard that he himself is the model for OBIV, a character in Segal's tearjerker. The journos TDH complains about gin this up into a story of Gore's confabulation to insert himself into the story. But it turns out that Segal seems to back up Gore's version. So, in fact, it's perfectly reasonable for Gore to mention something that he might reasonably have heard.

      Now WaPo has discovered that Segal has told somebody named Terry Lenzer that he, not Gore, was the model for character OBIV. And we know this how? Because Lenzer says he has a letter from Segal? As your own source says, "We may never know the truth because Segal is dead. But let's assume that Lenzer really does have the letter he claims to have. So what? It seems Segal told various versions about his inspiration. Gore said he'd heard one about himself.

      None of this makes Gore an egotistical liar; none of this invalidates TDH's complaint about how the story was misrepresented. But you "only bring it up" why again?

      Hello. Is any of this sinking in? I hope so, because it's why people keep telling you to go away. (Not me. I really enjoy your comments about casting spells.)

    8. What is sinking in deadrat is that, despite the fact BOB has covered the Al "Love Story" story many times, he has kept silent about recent developments and you ignore that crucial fact.

      What are the "various" versions Segal told, deadrat? The one he wrote to Lenzner in 1996, when it didn't matter to anyone but Segal and Lenzner? That's one. Then there is the one he told the NYT to cover Al's buttooski in 1997, after he had been prompted by Al that it was important for the two of them to agree there might have been a reporter who asked Segal something way back in 1972 about Al and Tipper, and that the reporter got it all wrong when he wrote up Segal's answer. That's two. Any more that constitute your use of the word "various?"

      Here is what one gets from a devoted BOB reader:

      "So, in fact, it's perfectly reasonable for Gore to mention something that he might reasonably have heard.

      There are lots of things that "might" be heard. It is reasonable for us to say modfying fact with "might" and "reasonable" takes a lot away from being able to label anything a fact. Since you are a rat and I am an alien, we don't suffer the limitations BOB has placed on humans. They cannot reason.

    9. Whom did Segal model his character OBIV on? One person? Two people? More? Was one of them Al Gore? Your source says one of them was someone named Terry Lenzner, apparently because he claims to have a letter Segal wrote him to that effect. Does Lenzer have such a letter? Hard to tell from your source, which, in any case, points out the Gore might at least been partially reflected in OBIV.

      Does anyone but you think it's important whom OBIV was actually based upon? Of course not. Gore says he read about his part in Segal's portrayal from a newspaper article. At the time, Segal backed him up, saying that he spoken to a reporter for a Nashville paper, The Tennessean, but it turns out that the reporter's story had played up Gore's role beyond Segal's statement. The press still made out that Gore was an egotistical liar for making up the story from whole cloth.

      Here's what we get from someone who can think straight. Gore reported what he said was a second-hand story about author Segal. Is that an unreasonably egotistical think to do? No, and certainly not if Gore actually heard the story. Is it unreasonable to believe he had? Again, no. The story as Gore related actually appeared in a Nashville paper.

      Here's what we get from someone from the Planet Schizophrenia. Based on the claim of a letter not in evidence, Segal based his character on someone other than Gore, and only backed up Gore in a conspiracy to cover Gore's ass. And we can thus disregard what Gore claimed to have heard as it's improbable that Gore ever read a Nashville paper. What's really important here is that the character OBIV wasn't based on Al Gore, at least not entirely, and TDH hasn't reported on the scandal.


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