ESPN’s Vice President Speaks Out On Criticisms Of The Way ESPN Covered The Bernie Fine Sex Abuse Story

  • Dan Fogarty

Vince Doria is ESPN’s Vice President and Director of News, and, per his bio on the company’s site, is “responsible for news content on all ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS studio programs.” Recently, one of those studio shows, Outside the Lines, aired a tape from 2002, in which the wife of a Syracuse assistant coach spoke with a former ball boy who was allegedly molested by that assistant coach.

On the tape, Laurie Fine, the wife of former Syracuse coach Bernie Fine, sounds like a woman who knows her husband has done something wrong. She mentions Fine’s “issues,” and the fact that “he needs that…male companionship.” It’s dark stuff, twisted stuff, and most of all, incriminating stuff. This lady sounds like she knows her husband’s been molesting kids.

Which is why ESPN has come under the fire for sitting on the tape for so long. It’s almost 10 years old, and seems to corroborate the former ball boy’s story, which is that he was sexually abused as a child. Despite this, the Worldwide Leader sat on the story and never turned the tape over to police.

On Sunday, CNN will air an interview between Howard Kurtz and Vince Doria. CNN was kind enough to send over this preview clip, in which Kurtz asks Doria why ESPN put two of their sources in touch with each other. Both of those sources — Zach Tomaselli and Bobby Davis — have accused Fine of sexually abusing them. Davis was the one who taped the conversation with Fine’s wife, and gave it to Outside the Lines.

Putting the two sources in touch with each other seemed like an odd choice for a journalistic enterprise. The thing, though, is that ESPN’s not really a journalistic enterprise. It’s an entertainment enterprise that doubles as a journalistic enterprise, which is the uncomfortable thing about Vince Doria going on TV and answering questions about his company’s journalistic integrity.