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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Jimmy Traina

Charissa Thompson, Context and the Twitter Pile-on

1. Let me start by saying I don’t think anyone in the media should make anything up. Period. End of story.

But as with every story these days for those of us who spend way too much time on the cesspool that is Twitter, the story always ends up taking a backseat to the reaction to the story.

And as with most stories these days, people see a headline and don’t bother checking the context.

So if I’m giving my honest take on the Charissa Thompson brouhaha, I have much stronger feelings about the Twitter pile-on regarding Thompson saying on Pardon My Take that she had made up sideline reports.

“I’ve said this before,” Thompson said on PMT. “I haven’t been fired to saying it, but I’ll say it again. I would make up the report sometimes, because (a) the coach wouldn’t come out at halftime, or it was too late and I didn’t want to screw up the report. So I was like, ‘I’m just gonna make this up.’ Because first of all, no coach is gonna get mad if I say, ‘Hey, we need to stop hurting ourselves, we need to be better on third down, we need to stop turning the ball over and do a better job of getting off the field.’ They’re not gonna correct me on that. So I’m like, it’s fine, I’ll just make up the report.”

One of the reasons I don’t have as strong of a reaction to Thompson’s “revelation” is because it wasn’t a revelation at all. Thompson had said on her own podcast in January 2022 that she made up a sideline report and offered more context than she did on PMT.

Thompson explained that in 2008, “I was covering every Lions game because I was a baby reporter and got all the s--- games and it was the year they were 0–16 and [Detroit coach] Rod Marinelli at halftime, I was like, ‘Oh Coach, what adjustments are you gonna make at halftime?’ He goes, ‘That’s a great perfume you’re wearing.’ I was like, ‘Oh f---, this isn’t gonna work.’ I’m not kidding; I made up a report.”

Now, on Pardon My Take, Thompson was a little more flip about the whole thing and didn’t offer that story, so that led to people acting like Thompson was saying she would get on the air and claim a quarterback had a broken leg when he didn’t.

Again, people in the media shouldn’t make up any reports, but having known the context of Thompson making up sideline reports, I didn’t think the world was ending Thursday.

I also went to watch the full clip of what Thompson said on PMT. Here’s what she told Big Cat and PFT Commenter immediately before saying she had made up reports.

“I say this to Erin Andrews all the time. You prep all week long, you have all these calls with players, you have all these calls with coaches for 15–20 seconds and half the time it’s not even on camera. It’s just like a report. So the ROI on the amount of work you put in versus what you actually see, I give them so much respect.”

Of course I totally understand why sideline reporters, who came out in full force to blast Thompson on Thursday, would be offended by Thompson saying she made up reports, because (a) you shouldn’t make up reports, and (b) doing that could hurt the credibility of all sideline reporters in the eyes of some people.

Of course, though, the part when Thompson praised sideline reporters didn’t get any attention on social media. Nobody on Twitter mentioned that Thompson talked about how hard sideline reporters work and that she respected sideline reporters.

The narrative became, “Charissa Thompson Undermines Every Sideline Reporter on Earth,” and the floodgates were open.

So, as I said, when a story blows up, the Twitter reaction always becomes a thing.

The Twitter pile-on that Thompson experienced was one of the more severe Twitter pile-ons that I’ve seen. It became a game of “Which Media Person Can Be More Outraged Than the Next?”

People were calling for Thompson to be fired. People were calling for Amazon to take her off the air for last night’s Ravens-Bengals game.

Again, for the third time, I don’t think anyone in the media should make stuff up. But I don’t understand the leap from “Charissa Thompson made up a sideline report about the Lions in 2008” to “She shouldn’t be allowed to host Amazon’s pregame show in 2023.” What does punishing Thompson now accomplish? She hasn’t been a sideline reporter since ’14.

I will never understand the thirst to end someone’s career and the desire to take someone down that takes place on Twitter, but it was out in full force Thursday.

2. This was a real email that I received yesterday.

Via me

3. While most people were watching the Bengals-Ravens game Thursday, Pitt hosted Boston College on ESPN. The game featured a targeting penalty that went viral on social media.

While everyone was focused on the targeting, my brain went to a completely different place. This is the PERFECT example of my issue with rules analysts. The play happens and right away the play-by-play guy goes to the rules analyst. Why? Any human being with functioning eyesight saw that this was targeting. There was zero question about it. It wasn’t a borderline play. Why do we need to hear from the rules analyst? The rules analyst should be there to explain a rule we may not know. They don’t need to come on TV to tell us what we just saw with our own eyes.

4. I told you yesterday that Stephen A. Smith has become the Dr. Ruth of the 21st century. The ESPN host was back to talking about sex on the latest episode of his podcast. This time he weighed in on if he’d give up having relations for a year if it guaranteed that his Knicks would win an NBA title.

5. I’m not sure how many of you will be interested in a TEN-part series on the Patriots dynasty, but Apple TV+ has you covered. The show will debut Feb. 16, and the trailer dropped today.

6. A brand-new episode of SI Media With Jimmy Traina dropped Thursday, and it features a conversation with broadcaster Ian Eagle, from CBS, Turner Sports and the YES Network.

Eagle discusses his hectic work weeks during the NFL and NBA seasons, and shares hilarious traveling stories, including the time he almost missed a game after a flight was canceled. Eagle also explains why he still does NFL preseason games, how he’s approaching the college basketball season now that he will call the Final Four for the first time, being the first NFL broadcaster to make a Travis Kelce–Taylor Swift reference, what it’s like to work with Richard Jefferson, what happens when he goes out to dinner with Bill Raftery and much more.

Following Eagle, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York joins me for our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, I talk about seeing Bill Burr at Madison Square Garden and a live taping of Conan O’Brien’s podcast last week. We also discuss the big week of NFL games and why Sal has issues with the NFL airing a third game at night on Thanksgiving.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Google.

You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: We close out our week of Bill Burr videos with the comedian talking about the Michigan cheating scandal on Thursday’s Rich Eisen Show.

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