ESPN's SportsCenter got scammed last night from Tom Cipriano, the school crossing guard from Lansdale who's made a career out of duping news organizations to put him on the air.
Cipriano, aka Howard Stern character Captain Janks, impersonated the agent of Brian Westbrook and then was put on the air as the outgoing Eagle with anchor Scott Van Pelt about 11:30 p.m.
The gig was up when Cipriano/Westbrook said he had "nothing but respect for head coach Andy Reid and I look forward to a future of worshiping the prostate of Howard Stern."
How on earth can this happen?
After Cipriano nailed CNN two weeks ago when he posed as a New Jersey emergency management official during a snowstorm, I asked him if producers had in any way tried to verify his identity before putting him on the air.
Cipriano said no. He simply called in and went live.
Last night's ESPN prank was more elaborate. He said he called the network at 7:30 p.m. and identified himself as Westbrook's agent, giving the name "Glen Goldstein." ESPN offered to tape an interview with "Westbrook" at 9:30 and asked for his number. Cipriano called back shortly before 9:30 as Westbrook and said he didn't want to tape the interview "because I don't want you cutting up what I'm saying." ESPN producers then agreed to put him on live.
Cipriano said ESPN clearly did not check to see that Westbrook's agent is Todd France.
After the scam, Cipriano said, an ESPN producer called him back and snapped at him, referring to him as a body part.