I linked Ken Rosenthal’s story from this morning in which he quotes an anonymous Nationals player saying that the Nats would be up 2-0 if they had Stephen Strasburg. A couple of people in the comments who don’t like anyone criticizing the Nats decision in this regard suggested that Rosenthal was simply making it up. Never mind that he’s one of the most respected reporters in the business.
But it’s not just the die hards in comment threads doing it. Two D.C. talk radio hosts had Rosenthal on the air this morning and they did it too:
And so it was that Rosenthal appeared on 106.7 The Fan’s Junkies program Wednesday morning, and was greeted by Eric Bickel, incredulously asking whether “one player on the Nats actually told you that this team would be 2-0 if Strasburg was there?”
“No, I just made that up,” Rosenthal replied.
There was some prickly back and forth, after which Bickel said “You’re kind of being a [jerk], to be honest with you,” Bickel said. “I don’t really understand why.” Some people on Twitter said that, rather than “jerk,” Bickel said “dick.” Rosenthal took the high road and explained in quite compelling terms, I believe, why it’s silly to accuse him of such a thing or of anti-Nationals bias in general.
I’m told by people who are familiar with the show that Bickel and The Fan’s Junkies is not exactly serious media so I guess it’s not terribly surprising that they’d do such a thing. But really, the fact that anyone would accuse Ken Rosenthal of making up quotes is simply unhinged.
Also unhinged: the degree to which fans in forums and now, apparently, radio hosts have gone to accuse anyone who writes or says things that don’t flatter their rooting interests as “biased,” and suggesting that it calls their factual assertions into question. Of course bias exists, but bias influences opinion for the most part. It does not necessarily call one’s factual reporting or analysis into question.
To the extent it does, it’s almost always more about not seeing the full picture or unconsciously tuning out data that doesn’t jibe with the bias. It does not, outside of the most abjectly partisan news outlets, lead to people actually fabricating things like quotes from whole cloth.