Charissa Thompson, a sports journalist who worked as a sideline reporter for the NFL, caused commotion when she claimed that she had fabricated coaches’ remarks. She later retracted her statement and said that she never “lied” nor did anything “unethical”.
Thompson, who works now for Fox Sports’ “Thursday Night Football” and Amazon Prime’s “Thursday Night Football,” made the following comments during the podcast “Pardon My Take”, which aired on Wednesday.
“I have said it before and I won’t be fired for saying it. “I would sometimes make up the reports because A, the coaches wouldn’t show up at halftime, or it was late, and I didn’t want the report to be messed up. So I’m like, I’m going to make this up,” the 41-year old said.
Thompson said that her comments were not far from what a real coach would say during an interview.
She explained: “Firstly, no coach will get angry if I tell them, ‘Hey we need stop hurting ourselves. We need to be more effective on third down. We need to stop throwing the ball away and do a much better job getting off the pitch.’ They’re not going to correct me about that.” “So, I thought it was fine. I would just make up a report.”
NBC News has contacted Thompson, Fox, and Amazon to get their comments.
Thompson’s remarks quickly caused a backlash among her peers.
Laura Okmin is Thompson’s Fox Sports colleague. TweetedThursday, “Devastated with the texts I’m receiving asking if this was ok. Never.”
“THE privilege is to be the only person in the world with the ability to ask the coaches about what’s going on at that particular moment. She added, “I can’t describe how long it takes to develop trust.”
CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson said that Thompson’s comments on the podcast were “absolutely unacceptable, not normal and upsetting in so many ways.”
“I take my work very seriously. I am accountable for everything I say. I build trust with the coaches, and I never lie. Wolfson Tweeted: “I know that my fellow journalists do the same.”
Molly McGrath, an ESPN broadcaster, tweeted to warn young journalists that this was not ethical or normal. If you are dishonest or don’t treat your job seriously, coaches and players will lose their trust in you.
NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen called Thompson’s remarks “deplorable,” meanwhile Emmy Award-winning sports journalist Andrea Kremer Tweeted: “I’m disgusted by the insulting ridicule being made of the sideline reporting. A challenging role primarily manned & staffed by women – most of whom understand & appreciate the values of journalism – and are integral members, trusted members, of a broadcasting team.
Lindsay Rhodes, a former NFL Network host, responded on X to a question from a Twitter user asking what Thompson should do if a coaching declined to comment but she had to still speak during the broadcast.
Rhodes responded: “She told the producer that he hadn’t stopped, and they didn’t go to a sideline reporter for a report she didn’t have. OR, she informs her audience in her report. She observes & reports things without deceiving anyone to think it was someone else.
Thompson responded to the controversy Friday by writing Instagram: “I never lied or was unethical in my career as a sportscaster.”
“It is my responsibility, and that of my employer, to clarify the information reported.” She said that on a podcast she had said earlier this week that I made up stories early in my career, when I was a sideline journalist before transitioning to her current role as host. As a media professional, I know how important the right words are. I used the wrong ones to describe the situation. I’m sorry.”
She said that, if the coach did not provide any information for her report, she would “use information I saw and learned during the first half of my game to create my reports.”
“For instance, if a team is 0 for 7 in 3rd downs, this would be an area that they should improve upon in the second halves. Thompson wrote that in these situations, he never attributed any of my comments to players or coaches.
She ended by saying, “I have nothing but admiration for sideline reporters and the tireless work that they do behind the scenes.”