NEW ORLEANS – ESPN’s story about Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis listening in on opposing teams’ locker rooms has come under quite a bit of scrutiny by journalists.
ESPN admits in its story that the network “could not verify the system was used.”
But, the network quoted an unnamed source as saying that an audio system was in place between 2002 and 2004 that allowed Loomis to listen to opposing coaches.
Robert Carroll, an audio engineer for Saints radio broadcasts for 27 years and former WWL-TV engineer, said the story had him scratching his head.
“My opinion, when I heard the story, I said, ‘this is crazy. This is ridiculous.’
Carroll has wired the Superdome for the Saints radio network and has served as the chief engineer at WWNO for the past 12 years. Carroll said that if there was a wiring system that would have allowed the eavesdropping to occur, he would have known about it.
“Absolutely, without question,” he said. “I’ve spent too many hours in that Superdome not to think I would have seen something.”
At the heart of ESPN’s story is an anonymous source, which, according to many professionals, causes some doubts.
“As a journalist, the story raised questions about the use of a single, unnamed source,” said Kevin Smith, the chairman for the American Society of Professional Journalists.
“There’s a huge degree of skepticism, when you’ve got an unnamed source and you’ve got nobody else verifying that this even occurred,” said Loyola University journalism professor Lisa Martin, a former WWL-TV producer.
Smith also took a shot at sports reporting in general, saying “there’s always been a rogue-type approach, different standards than in traditional news reporting.”
The Saints organization held to its position that the story is patently false. Greg Bensel, the Saints Vice-President of Communications, said the team’s position is to force ESPN to prove the allegations.
ESPN on Tuesday said that it continues to stand by its report.