Ombudsman Ohlmeyer Flays ESPN’s ‘Decision’

Former NBC Prez Don Ohlmeyer is currently scratching his media-criticism itch as ESPN’s ombudsman, and he has delivered a scathing — and exhaustive — rebuke of the network over its role in televising “The Decision,” the special in which NBA star LeBron James announced that he was jumping to the Miami Heat.

Those with the time can read the entire thing, but if not, I’ll provide a few of selected highlights:

– The way the special was handled is “a metaphor for what ails the media today.”

– “No matter how convoluted the intellectual gymnastics, ESPN ‘paid’ for exclusive access to a news story.”

– “As to transparency, ESPN failed miserably where it mattered most.”

– “There are certainly times when criticism is justified — and this was one of them.”

– “An increasing amount of ombudsman mail contains an undercurrent that questions the network’s honesty and integrity.”


Ohlmeyer also closes with a warning, saying that while ESPN can brush off the criticism, “it does so at its own peril.”

I’d agree — though having Ohlmeyer, someone with enough screw-you money to fulfill the ombudsman function as a hobby, is certainly a good place to start.

And since Ohlmeyer rightly notes the need for transparency, full disclosure: I currently write a weekly column for in addition to my duties at Variety, and have already weighed in with an earlier criticism regarding “The Decision.”

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