Having the wife of your general manager accuse a reporter of sleeping with the GM and trading sexual favors for scoops would be a PR nightmare enough in its own right, but it gets even worse when your team’s PR response is to initially say that the comments came from a fake account before owning up to them. That’s exactly what the Washington Redskins did Wednesday, though. After Black Sports Online and other sites reported that a Twitter account that seemed to be associated with Jessica McCoughlan, wife of Redskins’ GM Scot McCoughlan (who was hired in January after a year “in exile“), had accused ESPN’s Dianna Russini of being her husband’s “side chick” and “giving BJs to get a story,” Redskins’ senior vice president of communications Tony Wyllie called BSO’s Robert Littal and said it was definitely a fake account and they had contacted NFL security to shut it down. Later, Jessica McCoughlan owned up to the tweets and apologized in a statement sent through the team:
— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) September 3, 2015
And here’s ESPN’s statement denying McCloughan’s accusations and defending Russini:
“Dianna is an excellent reporter who should never have to be subjected to such vulgar comments. We are obviously extremely disappointed by today’s developments.”
Here are screenshots of the initial tweets, via BSO:
It’s a good bet that there’s going to be some fallout from this. We’ll see where the story goes from here, but one thing’s clear; Redskins’ PR screwed this up immensely. Perhaps one of the McCoughlans told them it was fake and they passed that on without investigating further, or perhaps they just assumed this couldn’t be true, but either way, they have an egg-covered face right now. Add that to a week where Redskins’ coach Jay Gruden has criticized the media for calling him fat, tight end Niles Paul has openly questioned who’s leaking stories to ESPN (and specifically to Russini), and quarterback Robert Griffin III has blamed his intern for liking an #impeachdansnyder post from Griffin’s official Instagram, and it raises the question of what’s next for this franchise.