ESPN Statement Regarding Pulled LeBron Article: “Should Have Never Been Published”

  • Dan Fogarty

Earlier today, I told you about a LeBron James feature on that was subsequently scrubbed from the site. My guess at the time was that LeBron’s camp had pressured ESPN into taking the article down, because it described James as “a child wrapped in 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame.”

I was just emailed by ESPN PR regarding the article, and here’s what they said:

“The story should have never been published. The draft was inadvertently put on the server before going through the usual editorial process. We are in the midst of looking into the matter.”

When I asked if we could expect to see a finalized version of Arash Markazi’s story on any time soon, they said, “We are looking at the matter in its entirety.”

Now. Accidentally putting out articles when they’re not ready happens all the time. I’ve certainly done it (that “publish” button is so shiny, it’s hard not to press it by accident). But one would think that extra care would be taken with a feature on the most talked-about athlete on the planet. Especially from an entity like ESPN.

Did they succumb to outside pressure from James’ camp, or someone else, to take the story down? LeBron’s team, apparently, says they didn’t make such a request. That leaves two possibilities:

1) This really was an accident, and Markazi “pushed the publish button” without going through the proper editorial channels.

2) ESPN published it, then said, “Holy shit, this is inflammatory, we need to take this down.”

If ESPN ends up publishing a finalized version of the story, then it was clearly option 1. But if no story ever comes out, or a version that’s been whitewashed to hell appears, then something dicier took place. Stay tuned.

[Image via Getty]

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