This is a baseball blog, and I generally try to keep the conversation steered toward that topic. But this is also a Daily News and Philly.com blog, and when the honor of our matriarch needs defending, I will not hesitate to pick up the shield.
Dorothy Mantooth, after all, is a saint.
Sometime yesterday evening, Howard Eskin -- or somebody using a Twitter account under his name -- publicly accused Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch of lifting an interview of Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo from 610-WIP and passing it off as his own. For those of you who may not be familiar with Eskin, he used to host a popular sports radio talk show in Philadelphia. If that still does not ring a bell, he's the guy you will occasionally see holding a microphone behind Andy Reid on the sidelines at Eagles games, the one who bears a slight resemblance to something you might get if Chewbacca and Conan O'Brien produced a test tube baby.
Anyway, Eskin was on radio row in Dallas at the Super Bowl on Friday when former Eagle Ike Reese and he interviewed Spagnuolo. If you are unfamiliar with radio row, it is essentially a giant tent where celebrities, coaches and players provide psychological affirmation for hundreds of talk show hosts from around the country, sitting down for 15-minute interviews while making each broadcaster feel as if he or she is the only reason said celebrity, coach or player chose to drop by.
That same Friday, Spagnuolo granted an interview to a group of sports writers, one of whom was our Paul Domowitch.
Eskin -- or somebody using a Twitter account under his name -- read Domowitch's story on Philly.com and immediately accused him oflifting Spagnuolo's quotes from the WIP interview, apparently believing that Reese and he were the only media members with the foresight to talk to a former Eagles assistant coach about the decision to elevate Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator.
Now, journalism etiquette holds that if you use quotes that were obtained by another media outlet, you cite that media outlet when re-hashing those quotes. The only problem is that Domowitch was using quotes that he personally obtained from Spagnuolo in a separate interview.
Here are the quotes that appeared in the Daily News and on Philly.com:
"I thought it was a great move by Andy. The thing about Andy, Andy’s a football junkie. Juan’s a football junkie. Andy recognizes that he’s a good football coach. Juan knows football. Anytime I was around Juan for the 8 years that I was there, he didn’t just talk offensive line football. He was always talking football in general. We had a lot of conversations late into the night that made both of us better. I think he’ll do a good job.
"In this league right now, we all know that there are a lot of passes thrown," he said. "And we all know that if you’re going to throw the ball, you gotta protect the quarterback. So if you know how to protect the quarterback, you should have a pretty good idea of how to attack those protections. I’m sure Juan will come at it from that standpoint. When you’re putting together a (defensive) gameplan and want to pressure the quarterback, you find your way into the offensive line coach’s office and pick his brain. So Juan will already have that advantage."
And here are the pertinent quotes from Reese and Eskin's interview with Spagnuolo, which is archived on the web site of parent company CBS:
"I think it's a great move by Andy. What Andy has always recognized in there in the whole time he's been there is he recognizes good football coaches, and he puts them in the right spot, just like they do with players there. Juan has been a football junkie ever since I've known him since I got there in '99 and he's always studied everything. It wasn't just offensive line. So I just think he's got a wealth of knowledge of defensive football. He played it. He coached it earlier in his career and I'm sure he'll take a lot of things that have already been done there and keep them the same. So I think there will be some continuity.
"When you know the other side of the ball so well, and remember that's what your going to be defending, offenses and protections and what not, so I think it can be a big help."
Now, we can see where the confusion lies. Certainly, only the most skilled of interviewers can talk to a man about a personnel move made by his former boss and elicit a response like, "I thought it was a great move." What are the odds of Spagnuolo providing such illuminating insight on two separate occasions?
Still, the quotes in question -- those that appeared in the Daily News and those that were broadcast on WIP -- are clearly different.
I probably didn't need to address this situation. I like to think that readers of this blog are discerning enough not to trust Twittered accusations from the account of a man who apparently needs a press credential to get within a foot of a beautiful woman (here and here). And I'd like to think that Paul Domowitch is a reporter whose track record speaks for itself.
But ethical reporting is the number one priority for any legitimate journalist, and I think it is important that the public have a crystal clear understanding about who is on which side of the line.