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Were the media fair to Neuheisel?
By Richard Linde,
Updated March 18, 2005
As author of the
11,000-word tome, "The Neuheisel Chronicles", I have
done tons of research on the former University of Washington football coach,
Rick Neuheisel. As a result, I am positioned to comment on whether the media
treated Neuheisel fairly after the gambling story broke on June 4, 2003.
Everyone knows the mainstream media is slanted. Just ask
anybody. “I can’t tell you why the media is biased; I just know slant or bias when
I see it,” some will say.
One of my readers e-mailed me the following, "I've gotten
into arguments with (Art) Thiel and a couple of others from time to time. Most
of them (the Seattle columnists) do not even appear to think in terms of balance at all.
They think that something 'is right' or 'is wrong' but cannot buttress their
position by looking at all the evidence. The problem is that the public does
not demand any kind of rigor in reporting about sports, that it is mostly
Finding instances of double standards, fact twisting,
omission, and sensationalism are ways of proving media bias to oneself. Sometimes the slant is of the in-your-face variety, such as
always giving a certain political party the last word during a newscast. “Heck,
we presented both sides of the issue," the media source will say, defending
What I mean to say is that if a viewer hasn't thrown an old
shoe at a TV screen in response to a pontificator's dogma, the viewer is either puerile, living in a jejune world or
is sharing electrons with an alternate universe where unfairness does not exist.
Most of us are skeptical of what we read or hear, lest we be sold acres of swamp land in Florida.
Omitting a fact that would otherwise weaken an argument
buttressed by a journalist or columnist is the easiest slant to detect because it
is a one-time occurrence. Many times that omission follows the columnist from
column to column on a particular subject.
I’m not trained in journalism, just common sense. And my
common sense tells me that if a columnist makes short shrift of important facts
in a story – or, worse yet,
twists those facts – then his reasoning is likely flawed.
The slant I'm discussing begins when Neuheisel was interviewed by NCAA investigators
and ends at the start of Neueheisel’s lawsuit trial against the UW and NCAA – a
period that encompasses almost 20 months, beginning June 4, 2003.
Here are some facts that columnists in the Seattle media
neglected to mention over that 20-month period. Others
in the bulleted list below, some outside the period, concern double
standards and a misstatement of facts.
- Other than Fox NW, none of the media said that the NCAA's gambling bylaw is
vague about sports pools. They wrote about how the gambling Bylaw was
not updated on the NCAA website and what it meant. However, the media never
addressed fact that the updated Bylaw is ambiguous about sports pools.
Most of the media said that the NCAA forbids
gambling of any kind, which it claims it does. But where in the
NCAA's bylaws manual
is that written? NCAA Bylaw 10.3 (the one on gambling) is vague about bets wagered
in sports pools, such as a March Madness basketball pool. And Neuheisel wasn’t
betting in a pool, he was bidding in an auction to complicate matters. Various
legal scholars have offered varying opinions about the updated Bylaw’s vagueness and
clarity. Hence, by virtue of those differing weighted opinions, the updated gambling
Bylaw is ambiguous about sports pools, a priori. It certainly doesn't say
"sports pools disallowed;" instead, it appears to be aimed at organized
gambling. Germaine to all of this,
former UW compliance director Dana Richardson, who is an attorney, thought the
Bylaw permitted the participation in sports pools as long as it was done
outside of the intercollegiate athletic department.
- None in the media said that Neuheisel was blindsided
by the NCAA in violation of its own bylaws. The salient bylaw lay just one
Google away from an investigative journalist.
Our website, over the 20 month
period, clearly pointed to that fact -- and the updated bylaw (the correct
one) -- in our discussions of the gambling
- No one in the media mentioned that the
Seattle Post Intelligencer reporter
eavesdropping on Neuheisel’s cell phone call to his parents at the San
Francisco airport, as
an alternative, could have told Neuheisel that he’d overheard him talking
about the 49ers job, then and there. In so doing they would have critiqued
themselves and their investigative methods. The reporter's presence at the
airport, just six feet away from Neuheisel on his cell phone, a million to one
shot, still confounds me. In fairness to the reporter, he gave Neuheisel two days to come
The reporter could have said, “Hey, come
clean, coach, I just overheard you talking about the 49ers job on your cell
phone; I’ve got you dead to rights. I’ve still got a story, so fess
- The media doggedly pursued Neuheisel during the
at UCLA and the San Francisco 49ers, even though they knew he was chained to
Washington by an addendum to his contract that would have cost a would-be
hirer $2.1 million to lure him away.
The mega-reasons in his contract
addendum are why UCLA wasn’t interested in Neuheisel, even though a Seattle
Times editorial, “Coach Rick Hamlet,” had alerted us fans to Neuheisel’s
schmoozing ways and the possibility of his interest in the UCLA job. Five days
after the editorial was written, UCLA hired Karl Dorrell for a paltry $600
thousand per annum. Rick could have made as much as $1.8 million at the UW
annually, providing each and every incentive in his contract was met. That
editorial, an example of a double standard as well as artful omission, gave
permission to then-WSU coach Mike Price to seek other coaching opportunities.
- In its editorial format, the P-I failed to balance the dogmatic opinions given by former UW
quarterback Hugh Millen in its series of articles; the P-I failed to present the other side of Rick Neuheisel’s case against the UW
and NCAA as an opposing opinion. It is no wonder that one of Neuheisel's
sisters gave Millen the bird after the trial was over. Maybe the P-I should
consider the mid-digit display as one directed at itself. The only
formal rebuttals to Millen I know of -- "An Open Letter to Hugh Millen"
and "Hugh Millen was both
right and wrong" -- were published on this website.
- Some of the media’s criticisms of former
athletic director Barbara Hedges concern her hiring of Rick Neuheisel
and his attendant baggage; in the main, that includes his secondary
recruiting violations at
Washington and Colorado. Their stories fail to mention that Neuheisel’s
assistant coaches committed most of these violations and that the violations
were unbeknownst to Hedges when she hired Neuheisel.
In summary, I could care less about mainstream media bias, unfairness,
slant or whatever you want to call it, as long as an alternative source of
information is made available to the public. I believe the Internet and its
search services adequately provide this source of information, while
providing a forum for opposing viewpoints.
Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at