Taylor Twellman (L) and Jason McIntyre (R). Taylor Twellman (L) and Jason McIntyre (R). (Twitter.)

One of the things that often comes up in disputes over reporting is how specific the initial report is. The more specific the report is, the easier it is to refute. That happened with Jon Sokoloff‘s reporting on Lane Kiffin; Sokoloff’s initial assertions were so specific, even as per the date Kiffin would leave Ole Miss for Auburn, and that made it easy for Kiffin to push back.

The latest case of this comes from the Gio ReynaGregg Berhalter USMNT situation, . That situation  saw Fox Sports’ Jason McIntyre (seen at right above) state that there was a team-wide vote on sending Reyna home or not. McIntyre, commenting on an ESPN.com piece from Jeff Carlisle Sunday, said that vote wound up as 13-12 in favor of keeping Reyna.

If that tweet doesn’t load, it has McIntyre saying “Here’s the story I alluded to on the herd and talked more about on the podcast. One thing I didn’t reveal yet that isn’t in the story – the vote to send Reyna home was 13 stay, 12 go home.” McIntyre then added a bunch of characterizations of Reyna:

It’s worth keeping in mind how this all arose. On Tuesday, USMNT manager Berhalter spoke at the HOW Institute for Society’s Summit on Moral Leadership in New York. Those remarks were supposed to be off the record, as per US Soccer, but they were published in a newsletter by Charterworks, and that included discussion of the USMNT almost sending a player home. That led to MLSSoccer.com and The Athletic reporting that the player was Reyna.

But none of those reports included discussion of a team-wide vote, or of specific voting numbers, so that was a new suggestion from McIntyre. And ESPN’s Taylor Twellman (seen at left above) disputed it with his own reporting Monday, saying the only vote was amongst Berhalter’s team staff (which would not be at that 25 number):

“To clarify the story going around re: Gio. There was NO player vote taken regarding his status with the team. The storyline of ’13-12′ is wrong confirmed to me just moments ago. There was a vote among the staff who worked for GB including fitness personnel and assistant coaches.”

That saw some people accusing Twellman of being paid by the United States Soccer Federation or the USMNT to tweet that. He pushed back on that, adding some further reporting in the process:

“Since you think I got paid for the tweet (laughing emojis), I’ve asked 3 different agents ‘did your players vote on Gio?!’ All 3 said ‘nope.’ All 3 did say ‘the leadership council may have had a say/vote but the storyline of all 25 players voting is categorically false. The staff voted.'”

Again, this speaks to the problems of making specific claims without (seemingly) the evidence to back them up. If McIntyre had just stuck with what Carlisle spelled out in his story, that there was discussion of sending Reyna home, that would have been fine. If he’d even gone on to just a “vote,” Twellman’s later reporting suggests that a vote did take place. But McIntyre’s specifics on who voted and how that vote went are under a high level of dispute.

If McIntyre has more evidence to present to prove the accuracy of his story, that will certainly be worth examining. At the moment, we mostly have him saying this happened and Twellman saying it didn’t. And Twellman seems more believable there considering his history of playing for and then commenting on this team. It’s also worth considering McIntyre’s past comments on his lack of source verification, including “when I hear something that is juicy, I’m going to put it out there” (about a widely-debunked 2020 report on a physical fight between New York Giants’ coaches) and “There are plenty of cases where I will do nothing and run with something and I’m wrong” (about him actively falling for a 2010 fake tip from Spencer Hall and Brian Cook). So this looks like another circumstance that may fall in that “run with something and I’m wrong” category, unless McIntyre can provide anything further on why that isn’t the case.

[Taylor Twellman on Twitter; photos of Twellman and McIntyre from Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.