The Herald’s John Tomase Responds

Another chapter in the erroneous report that the Patriots videotaped the Rams walkthrough at Super Bowl XXXVI came about today from the Boston Herald beat writer who penned the  story, John Tomase.

In my post earlier this week I questioned the reality that some reporters rush to judgement on stories in this 24/7 news cycle we all live in.  Tomase revealed as much when he wrote:

The confirmed presence of a member of the team’s video staff at the walkthrough reinforced my belief that it was filmed. Secondhand sourcing took on added weight. When I got word that other reporters had picked up the scent, it only steeled my resolve not to get beat.

In the piece Tomase gave readers a general overview of how the story developed.  He then admitted where, in hindsight, the story all went awry:

I already had been able to verify that a member of the team’s video staff had been setting up a camera at the walkthrough, but on the final, crucial point of whether the camera was actually rolling, I made a devastating leap of logic and assumed that’s what I was being told rather than confirming it explicitly. I considered the fact that it was taped unassailable.

And this is the exact point at which the story broke down.

Despite other media reports, Tomase said he did not rely on only one source for the story.  Outside this blog, I have wanted Tomase to revel his sources, especially if they had deliberately misled him in any way.  This guy’s reputation is on the line if if I had been purposely misled, my internal defense mechanism would have kicked in.  But it appears these sources did not intentionally mislead Tomase.  You can sense this in his tone:

There has been a clamoring for me to identify the sources used in my story. This I cannot do. When a reporter promises anonymity, he can’t break that promise simply because he comes under fire. I gave my word, and the day I break that word is the day sources stop talking to me.

I accept that explanation.  I would have liked to have seen more details as to the specific evidence Tomase amassed in developing the story.  Those did not come.

Although he did sound contrite, I am sure some will not be forgiving after reading Tomase’s piece.  New England fans are really steamed over the media coverage of this story, this one included.

Let’s hope all of us in the sports media have learned something from this episode.  Although I doubt we did.