Before Fox Sports and Amazon host Charissa Thompson admitted to previously making up sideline reports, she mentioned that “I’ve said this before” and “I haven’t been fired [for] saying it.”
She actually said it in a conversation with Erin Andrews of Fox. As explained by Jenny Vrentas and Kevin Draper of the New York Times, Thompson and Andrews had the discussion on their Calm Down podcast.
The comments were made in early 2022. Many surely assumed they went unnoticed, because they sparked no stir at the time. However, and as discovered by Vrentas and Draper, the remarks were picked up by Brandon Contes of Mediate.com.
Thompson, during the podcast, explained that she was struggling to get anything relevant from former Lions coach Rod Marinelli during the team’s hapless 0-16 season of 2008.
“I was like, ‘Oh coach what adjustments are you gonna make at halftime?’” Thompson said, via Contes. “He goes, ‘That’s a great perfume you’re wearing.’ I was like, ‘Oh fuck, this isn’t gonna work.’ I’m not kidding, I made up a report.”
Said Andrews in response: “I’ve done that too. For a coach that I didn’t wanna throw under the bus because he was telling me all the wrong stuff.”
Vrentas and Draper linked to the Contes item (which has at the bottom a link to the full podcast episode), adding a statement from Andrews’s spokesperson, Jill Fritzo: “For her entire career, Erin Andrews has worked very closely with coaches, players and P.R. staffs to ensure accuracy in her reporting.”
Fritzo added that Andrews meant to say “she took information from earlier meetings with coaches to include in her reports, and that when she was on the air she was always ‘clear’ about where her information comes from.”
Thompson issued a social-media statement on Friday, but she has otherwise said nothing publicly. Both Fox Sports and Amazon have persistently and consistently denied comment (but for a deleted tweet from Dan Kaplan in which Amazon downplayed the practice as 15 years old), and Amazon declined to make Thompson available for an interview with the New York Times.
As another football Sunday approaches, with a stream of bright, shiny objects that will give us new things to talk about and, potentially, new controversies to cover, the overriding question is whether this one will die or endure.
In this case, the lingering fallout likely will come, at a minimum, in the form of random fans questioning on social media the validity of any and all in-game reports from any and all NFL sideline reporters. Which is surely one of the reasons why so many sideline reporters expressed dismay at the situation.
As Peter King said on Friday’s PFT Live, journalism is and has been under attack. Any admission to making things up fuels those who would prefer not to be held accountable by journalists, as well as those who do not want the reporting of journalists to disrupt their preferred view of the way things are or should be.