One can’t help but wonder whether ESPN staff ever listened to that taped telephoned conversation between Bobby Davis and Laurie Fine from 2002. Davis handed it over to them in 2003. ESPN had an independent voice-recognition expert verify a match with that of Bernie Fine’s, wife, Laurie. Watching ESPN news replays closely yesterday, they never mention when the comparison and verification was done, leaving the impression it was done recently. With the recording in hand it seems there should have been more in depth investigative reporting before ESPN put it on the shelf to gather dust for 8 years! It’s usually that kind of proof which helps make allegations more believable, even without a “second corroborating witness”.
On location, reporting from Syracuse, Mark Schwarz was very careful to point out that Ms. Fine denied the allegations, calling them lies, and reiterated their inability to corroborate Davis’ story, in the university’s 2005 investigation. If they listened to the tape wouldn’t it have sounded just as damning as it did when they aired it yesterday? It would have certainly made a difference in the university’s investigation had it been provided. It would also have put Ms. Fine’s denial in a different perspective, since her voice is heard on the tape admitting to taking advantage of Davis sexually, herself.
In a statement sent to the “SU Community” in advance of it being released to the media, announcing the firing of Bernie Fine, Chancellor Nancy Cantor acknowledged the university was not aware of the recording during its investigation in 2005. Head coachmade a statement to the public supporting Fine’s firing and apologizing for his prior support of his long-time friend sounding insensitive to the apparent victims. Unless the local U.S. Attorney’s Office found something which has not yet been divulged in the search of the Fines’ property on Friday, it appears that no law enforcement agencies knew of the tape’s existence.
More murky details have been published this morning in The Daily Orange, the student-run newspaper, and thecolumn on foxsports.com. Predictably, updated details of the story have been blasted all over morning television and radio news programs. All of them lead to the need to ask more questions. If ESPN and The Syracuse Post-Standard knew of the audio-tape’s contents, how could they sit on it for so long? The reasonable person is left with the feeling that ESPN really didn’t listen to the tape prior to the Penn State story hitting the fan. Media entities have a good citizenship role to play and responsibility to bear in the world. This is the story strand that I want to follow to see how it plays out and whether any of them were remiss.
Sources: The Daily Orange/dailyorange.com, foxsports.com, msnbc.com, espn.go.com.