Who among us hasn’t occasionally been duped by a fake Twitter account, claiming to be a sports reporting insider such as Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski or Jon Heyman? But there’s a difference between retweeting fake news or even aggregating it for a blog post and going on national TV with a phony report from an imposter.
CBS Sports’ Jamie Erdahl unfortunately found herself on the wrong side of false news during Sunday’s Chargers-Ravens game. Going off a tweet from a fake Ian Rapoport, Erdahl reported from the sideline that Baltimore receiver Steve Smith suffered a torn Achilles tendon. (h/t BroBible for the video)
However, that really wasn’t the NFL Network insider reporting that information. It was a phony account. CBS and Erdahl quickly had to retract their report on the air.
As Erdahl said, this unfortunately happens. But it’s nonetheless embarrassing, especially with many sports media watchdog websites (obviously including this one) ready to point out that mistake. Given that Erdahl was reporting from the Chargers-Ravens, it seems like she would have had first-hand sources to check with. To be fair, she did report what the Ravens had told her Smith was doubtful to return with a foot injury.
(Personally, I fell for a fake Ken Rosenthal account when writing for another outlet years ago and typed up a post about Hunter Pence being traded to the Giants. Never mind that Pence actually was dealt to San Francisco a few days later. At the time, it wasn’t true and that was pointed out to me by several readers and followers. Even if the post was deleted, it was still embarrassing and I’ve been very cautious ever since.)
As it turns out, Smith did indeed suffer a torn Achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the season. Ravens coach John Harbaugh gave the news to reporters after his team’s 29-26 win over the Chargers. Such a serious injury could mean the end of Smith’s 15-year NFL career. Smith caught five passes for 82 yards in the game, passing Cris Carter for 10th place on the NFL’s all-time list.
Harbaugh: Steve Smith has suffered an achilles tear and will be out for the rest of the season.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 1, 2015
So that redeems Erdahl to some extent. Her report ultimately wasn’t wrong. But it was at the time, since it was based on false information. And again, that looks bad. She will surely check something out more thoroughly next time she sees a pertinent report that applies to the game she’s covering. At the very least, make sure that Twitter account is legit.
And before anyone else points it out — yes, Erdahl was one of Awful Announcing’s Sports Media Rising Stars for 2015. This shouldn’t change that.