Deadspin Badly Fumbles Hit Piece On Republican Candidate

Alex Griswold Media Reporter
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“Breaking news: Politician makes sh*t up!” That was the opening line of an article posted on Deadspin, the popular sports site most famously known for breaking the news that star Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s girlfriend was fake. 

No doubt they thought they had another bombshell when reporter Dave McKenna penned its most recent investigative report: “Is A Colorado Senate Candidate Lying About His Football Career?

The background to the piece were comments made by Representative Cory Gardner, the Republican Senate candidate in Colorado. During an interview with The Washington Post, Gardner made an analogy comparing his current campaign to his high school football days. McKenna dug into the comments and wrote a 1,300 word piece detailing the evidence that Gardner never played for his high school football team.

The problem? Cory Gardner definitely played football in high school, and he tweeted photographic proof:

McKenna’s main evidence for Gardner never having been on the football team in the first place was all that the two people he asked about it didn’t remember him, and that he never appeared in the local paper. Which is to say: he never had any evidence Gardner wasn’t on the team, just that he never stood out. But that didn’t stop him from writing a piece saying he “[made] sh*t up,” filed under the category “Liars.”

That’d be bad enough. But the Denver Post tracked down McKenna’s main source, who told the Post that Gardner did play football… and he told McKenna that. He sent an email with the following information: “I did find a few things that may interest you. First, Cory did play football for three years. In his third year, he had one tackle and three assists. He did not play his senior year.”

It isn’t entirely clear why McKenna thought a Senate candidate’s offhand comment about his high school football days was worthy of such serious inquiry to begin with. But perhaps his characterization of Gardner’s views as “homo-hatin’ and climate-change-denyin conservatism” ought to give you a clue.

Deadspin has yet to retract the story, despite updating it with a statement from Gardner’s spokesperson saying that, yeah, Cory Gardner definitely played high school football. Hopefully they make serious changes before another headline starts popping up: “Breaking news: Deadspin makes sh*t up!”

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