Press Should Report News, Not Make It

Dubious Pete Rose Interview

Pete Rose during the controversial interview by NBC Reporter Jim Gray on Oct. 24, 2000 as Rose returned triumphantly to baseball as part of the All-Century team at Turner Field in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of CNNSI.com
Pete Rose during the controversial interview by NBC Reporter Jim Gray on Oct. 24, 2000 as Rose returned triumphantly to baseball as part of the All-Century team at Turner Field in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of CNNSI.com

A Rose By Any Other Name . , ,

Pete 'Charlie Hustle' Rose
Pete 'Charlie Hustle' Rose

Now that the infamous Pete Rose interview by NBC reporter Jim Gray on Oct. 24 is fading from our memories, I'd like to resurrect it for just a moment -- not so much to defend Rose, an outstanding baseball player, but to offer another perspective.

If you don't follow baseball, it's possible you are not familiar with the incident, but you need not be a fan to be concerned about what happened that day -- the same day Rose made a triumphant return to the baseball diamond in a ceremony before the second game of the Yankees/Atlanta World Series as a member of the All-Century team at Turner Field.

Despite his talents on the field, which no one can deny, lots of people don't think highly of Rose partially because of his personality, but mostly because of the accusations against him that resulted in his expulsion in 1989 and his banishment from the game of baseball.

Baseball's Hits Leader

Rose, baseball's career hits leader, has been accused of a long list of poor, and even criminal, behavior -- including, primarily, gambling on baseball and even on his own team. He vehemently denies the charges.

But this column is not about Rose; it's about Gray. In my eyes, Gray's behavior is of far greater concern.

For the uninitiated, Gray, in a pre-game interview, persisted in demanding that Rose admit his guilt and confess to betting on baseball (You get the picture, like, "When did you stop beating your wife?")

Inappropriate Interrogation

The questioning, or rather interrogation, was not only inappropriate, but it was poor -- no bad! -- journalism. Worse, commentaries over the next few days by professional journalists often attempted to defend Gray's unprofessional behavior; apologetically referring to Gray's "tough questions."

They weren't questions, they were statements, accusations.

"I'm not going to admit something that didn't happen," said Rose.

Anytime an interview becomes a story about the interviewer instead of the person interviewed, it's prima facie, a bad interview.

The 'Bite Fight'

Gray, coincidentally, is the same reporter who won a Sports Emmy in 1998 for his "relentless interview" with Mike Tyson following the "Bite Fight" with Evander Holyfield.

Rose, by the way, was aghast at the questioning, and so were a number of Yankees who overheard the interview.

The New York NBC affiliate fielded more than 600 complaints immediately following the incident. The public is not as stupid as some people would have us believe.

Incredibly, NBC tried to justify the interview, saying Gray's "questions" were not new, not a surprise.

Reporter Objectivity

Whether you believe Rose or not, a reporter should always be objective, not accusatory or prosecutorial, if he, or his news organization, expects to earn the esteem of the public.

Jim Leyritz was one observer who got it right. He was quoted as follows: "I think it's an embarrassment to your profession. Pete's done his time. To come off the field and have that question asked is barbaric. It's disgraceful."

I say Rose should be reinstated to baseball; more importantly, the press should report the news, not make it.

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Jan. 9, 2000. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

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Pete Rose Interview By Jim Gray -- 1999 All Century Team

Pete Rose Interview Part 1

Pete Rose Interview -- Part 2

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Comments 17 comments

NYLady profile image

NYLady 7 years ago from White Plains, NY

As a former journalist -- which I know you are, too -- I think Gray acted unprofessionaly during that famous interview. When a reporter becomes part of the story, that's when you know you've overstepped the objectivity line. Great column/hub.


Bob 7 years ago

Bill , WOW do I ever agree , but that goes for ALL news, politics included. If we had the media of today during WW2 , we'd all be speaking Japanese and German today.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you very much, NYLady, for your comment. Too many journalists today have all but abandoned the objectivity standard. Some of my other columns/hubs address that issue.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

There's very little objectivity in television reporting these days, Bob. Most newspapers cling to objective journalism, but even there some have fallen off the wagon. If voters can't obtain the facts, how can they be expected to form intelligent decisions?


Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 7 years ago from Central Oregon

I so agree William. And really, how many people like to watch this kind of "reporting" where the reporter tries to make a "name" for him/herself? They see to give off a "holier than thou" attitude and look like vulchers. But, it is too mad about Rose. I'm not a sports fan, but my husband is and I do remeber when this happened.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Apparently, many T V reporters have found they can earn more money and popularity by injecting themselves into every story. That's a failure of management. Rose was an outstanding baseball player, and that should be standard for being in the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's not a Hall of Virtue. His punishment for gambling should be a separate issue. It's a little like giving capital punishment for cheating on your taxes.


Chef Jeff profile image

Chef Jeff 7 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

I agree, Bill - TV "news" leave so much of the truth and objectivity on the cutting room floor! Indeed the major cable news channels are very partisan and only see issues from an either Right or Left leaning point of view.

What is worse is when they allow pundits to "report the news" as if they were journalists! And just as bad is when they give their actual journalists a free-hand to ignore or mix and blend fact and fiction as if they were pundits!.

I read a good portion of my news at www.thepaperboy.com, where I get national and international perspectives. I also find a lot of the stories that somehow fail to make it to our newscasts.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Chef Jeff. The major cable news channels are definitely very partisan, but I've seen very few left leaning points of view over the past several years. There's no shortage of right wing propaganda, however. One can find straight news on the Internet, but it requires a lot of searching.


ColdWarBaby 7 years ago

Investigative reporters need to dig for the truth. That being said, they also need to be sure they've really found it before they announce it to the world.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

A reporter's job is to gather facts and write a news story based on those facts. But the responsibility for publishing that story is shared by the editors and publisher of the publication in question. The reputation for accuracy and objectivity is very important to a publication, and the reputation and reliability of its reporters is important to the publication and its editors. Ultimately, the reporter is responsible for his work.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

I am not much of a sports fan, but I enjoyed reading this piece. It is good to see their are reporters such as yourself that are still dedicated to reporting the facts and not embellishing things.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Journalism was my major at New York University, Sweetie Pie, and the objectivity of reporters is the heart and soul of news reporting. But it's a different job from that of a court reporter; that is, it's not just recording the facts but, rather, giving readers the "news" created by the facts. There are some differences of opinions among journalists about objectivity, but I have always held that any good reporter can tell immediately when he or she strays from objectivity. The problem with television is that its reporters are rewarded handsomely if they become well known and part of the story. Being part of the story is the last thing any good print reporter wants to do. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 7 years ago from London UK

I like the truth, the while truth and nothing but! but reporters these days do like to exaggerate and stir things up to create even more news! We need more reporters liuke you telling the truth and how it really is!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, compu-smart. I'm from the old school, sure enough. We need to get back to objective journalism. We've got plenty of right wingers "reporting" for the TV stations, and some left wingers, too, but whichever side you are for or against you'll need to know the facts.


mrdot profile image

mrdot 5 years ago from New York, NY

This is the problem in now days, something we'll be changing soon. Please see what we work on: http://marketbulletin.com/


miscellanea profile image

miscellanea 3 years ago from Morocco

There's no objectivity ever! one always defends the circle he is in and that's so conspicuous in News Papers!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 3 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Good newspapers do a pretty good job keeping objectivity in their news columns, miscellanea. Opinions are reserved for the editorial pages. Most newspapers do allow some leeway in selected reports but let readers know this by labeling the stories as "analysis" or something similar to that. Some newspapers frequently violate fairness and objectivity, but they soon earn a reputation for that. I appreciate your comment.

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