This week on Pardon My Take, Prime Video and Fox Sports anchor Charissa Thompson reminisced on her days as an NFL sideline reporter and acknowledged she sometimes fabricated midgame hits when she didn’t have anything solid to report.
When a coach was late or withholding, Thompson admitted she would make up something to say. “I haven’t been fired to saying it, but I’ll say it again,” she told the PMT hosts.
Added Thompson: “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.”
In response to Awful Announcing’s write-up of the quote, reporters across sports media expressed their shock at Thompson’s style.
ESPN college football reporter Molly McGrath was the most direct voice to come out against Thompson, writing, “this is not normal or ethical.”
Young reporters: This is not normal or ethical. Coaches and players trust us with sensitive information, and if they know that you’re dishonest and don’t take your role seriously, you’ve lost all trust and credibility. https://t.co/yMnM1T995P
— Molly McGrath (@MollyAMcGrath) November 16, 2023
Chris Kirshner, who covers the Yankees for The Athletic, wrote “this causes significant harm to the people who actually take the job seriously.”
A good portion of the public doesn’t trust the media as is. I cannot believe she would proudly admit this. This causes significant harm to the people who actually take the job seriously. It’s entirely unethical and worthy of never working in the field again. https://t.co/c3s6ErFZOI
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) November 16, 2023
Tulane football sideline reporter Maddy Hudak accused Thompson of “setting women back” by doing her job this way and touting it publicly.
Naturally, the expected reaction, sideline reporters are useless. Have we considered providing analysis on the game of football instead?
How LOS battle is being won/lost by initial quickness? UOH in pass rush the press box can’t see? Not setting women back by making sh** up? https://t.co/u1Vn60y1Py
— Maddy Hudak (@MaddyHudak_94) November 16, 2023
Deadspin senior writer Carron J. Phillips knocked Thompson’s stylings as “things only white people can get away with.”
Things only white people can get away with. https://t.co/oyTe0Ri4tK
— Carron J. Phillips (@carronJphillips) November 16, 2023
Others, including The Ringer’s Benjamin Solak and The New York Times’ Sopan Deb, questioned why Thompson remained employed and in her bosses’ good graces over more deserving candidates if this is how she conducted herself professionally.
At the same time, Evan Sowards of 49ers Hub and former NFL athlete Will Blackmon questioned why Thompson’s behavior was so bad in the first place.
— Will Blackmon ? (@WillBlackmon) November 16, 2023
Never once in life have I heard anyone complain about @CharissaT’s sideline reports. So many people with jobs much more critical than this bullshit their entire careers. Who cares lmao https://t.co/a1e4Z6trI9
— Evan Sowards (@EvanSowards) November 16, 2023
Thompson no longer works as a sideline reporter. She is a host and anchor for studio coverage at Fox and Amazon. (Update: Amazon told Daniel Kaplan Thompson was “telling a story from 15 years ago.”)
I asked Amazon if Charissa Thompson would address on TNF tonight the controversy surrounding her disclosure she made up sideline reports. The response: “She was telling a story from 15 years ago. “ that sounds like a no
— Daniel Kaplan (@KaplanSportsBiz) November 16, 2023
Still, as recently as the mid-2010s, Thompson covered the FIFA World Cup, the Super Bowl and more as a reporter.
It’s hard to parse Thompson’s words too deeply when she was so cavalier. Pardon My Take is intentionally loose and defiant, but Thompson also admitted to embellishing reports on her own podcast last year.
At that time, Thompson said she embellished coaches’ quotes. This week, she admitted to outright faking news hits. And defended herself by saying she had not been fired (yet).
In a new role, many years separated from her last sideline reporting gig, Thompson may evade punishment again. However if the industry’s response online is any indication, she is in the minority when it comes to sideline reporting, and pretty far out of line.