Home / Top Story / Modiano: Peyton Manning’s Kill the Messenger tactic rolls on

Modiano: Peyton Manning’s Kill the Messenger tactic rolls on

Chuck Modiano

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Thursday, February 18, 2016, 4:36 PM

Peyton Manning and his father Archie are having to face renewed questions about the way they handled sexual assault allegations while Peyton was star QB at Tennessee.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Peyton Manning and his father Archie are having to face renewed questions about the way they handled sexual assault allegations while Peyton was star QB at Tennessee.

Pop Quiz:

A) Who is the Al Jazeera reporter who led the investigation into the HGH allegations against Peyton Manning?

B) Who is the NY Daily News reporter who exposed the court documents on Manning’s sexual assault allegations?

If you know the answer to “B” (Shaun King) but not “A” (Deborah Davies), you have likely been played by The Manning Machine. For the record, King is a person, Al Jazeera is a network, and neither met Dr. Jaime Naughright.

Peyton and his machine will keep calling “Kill-the-Messenger” play fakes more than “Omaha”. And his media teammates are protecting his back better than his left tackle. The Manning Machine wants us to focus on King – not the words in the long-hidden 74-page court document. Instead of Davies (who is British), it hopes the Al Jazeera name transmits enough Islamophobic tingles down our spines to not watch the documentary. If 49 minutes is too long, watch the final twelve. If you are too busy for 74 pages, read the facts here.

But don’t feel bad, I’ve been played too.

Despite devouring ridiculously unhealthy amounts of sports media since birth, I had never even heard about Manning’s sexual assault allegations at all until a couple of years ago. Never heard of Dr. Jamie Naughright, or the alleged placement of Peyton’s “gluteus maximus”, “rectum”, and “testicles” or his smear campaign on her after their initial settlement or her losing her job as a result in 2003.

Did you?

Did you know that Manning’s incident with Naughright was the last of 27 specific examples of sexual harassment and discrimination she cited as experiencing while working as a trainer at Tennessee.

Me neither.

Dr. Jamie Ann NaughrightTatiana Orellana/Youtube

Dr. Jamie Ann Naughright

So we must ask “why”?

A successful defensive scheme against The Manning Machine must combat play-fake distractions with real questions. Like these:

Why did an anonymous source send Shaun King the 74-Page court filing?

Because the source had confidence King and the Daily News might actually print it.

King’s previous article on Manning’s sexual allegations followed recent “forgotten scandal” articles by The Daily Beast, DeadSpin, and others.

The surfacing of the document raises even more journalistically troubling questions about power of The Manning Machine. Since it was part of the public record all these years, why didn’t anyone bother to get them, especially in a sports media world where TMZ reportedly paid over $ 100G to obtain the Ray Rice elevator video. Why so little interest in getting the information in this document to public? What does it tell us about journalistic fear that source chose to remain anonymous?

Edward Snowden wants to know.

Why did USA Today not release the 74 page document in 2003?

Why aren’t more in media asking this question? Have we received any answer?

To their credit, USA Today did post a 2003 article by Mel Antonin about the document called “Trainer has Backers in Suit against Manning”. While the title is quite mild from the sensationalist perspective, it is quite strong from a legal one. The operative word is “backers”. Dr. Naughright is not alone in her story. Other witnesses like Malcolm Saxon corroborate her story at personal expense, and others convincingly testify of Manning’s alleged lies, and even the judge strongly weighs in.

USA Today also printed two additional articles to open up a greater discussion for others outlets. One article titled “Manning’s image could take Hit in Suit” and Christine Brennan’s “Do you really know your sports hero?”

USA Today’s 2003 offerings, even without the court document, set up a 2nd-and-1 for the rest of national media to work with.

Instead, they punted.

Where was the rest of national media in 2003?

Over the years, Brennan has been a consistent critic of weak media and corporate responses to Peyton, and other high-profile athletes accused of sexual assault, such as Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston Patrick Kane.

Her predominantly white male colleagues have been far less consistent.

And in 2003, they were silent on Peyton Manning. It’s not new. An ESPN web search pulls up only one obligatory article on the Manning USA Today story. Sports Illustrated seems to have ignored the story completely.

As it would turn out, the nearly 3000 words spread over three USA Today articles would be the very best coverage in 2003 of Dr. Jaime Naughright’s allegations.

The Daily News' Shaun King exposes the 74-page court filing in the Peyton Manning case.Robin Rayne Nelson/Robin Rayne Nelson

The Daily News’ Shaun King exposes the 74-page court filing in the Peyton Manning case.

Such non-coverage also suggests that if many other outlets received the 74-page document, it might have ended up in the trash can.

How long will we continue to kill the messenger?

The totality of Peyton’s sexual allegations AND his aggressive behavior toward Dr. Naughright since, should not be separated from each other – and is far more troubling than the HGH allegations.

In the most serious outlook, one must wonder if the Naughright’s previous 27 allegations against others at the University were more publicized – and addressed appropriately – would there be another lawsuit this week against his Tennessee alma mater charging sexual discrimination, five alleged rapes, and a “hostile sexual environment and culture”.

No matter the seriousness of the allegation, the kill-the-messenger playbook remains the same – and reveals a consistent Peyton pattern that strengthens both allegations.

This past week, it seems half of sports media morphed into Roger Cossack while discussing how the 74-page document was “one-sided”. These were followed up by a few condescending lectures on King’s lack of “legal training” or “journalistic training” in framing the document.

It is just not something I’d ever seen before and really begs the question:

In exactly what sports media universe has a law degree or PhD from Columbia School of Journalism ever been needed for journalists to render an opinion of assumed guilt?

Since when?

An Al Jazeera America documentary linked Peyton Manning and wife to shady Indy clinic.BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

An Al Jazeera America documentary linked Peyton Manning and wife to shady Indy clinic.

Not in 2016.

Not in 2003.

Not ever.

The truth is, outside of an official court decision, videotape, or confession, every single journalist is using their subjective lens to judge the facts.

Consider that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have no court conviction (Bonds’ was overturned) or failed drug test on record, and nobody parses their words like a legal scholar when discussing their assumed guilt (although many did at first with Clemens).

In sports media, guilt has never been decided on any official basis. Sports media guilt is about who the masses of white men empathize with and find most “credible”. And polls show that no NFL athlete is more trustworthy and marketable as Peyton Manning.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is legal standard, not the bar to hold an educated opinion.

And at this moment there is plenty of pages and video that directly points to Manning’s guilt on both allegations.

So instead, Dr. Naughright and her backers are the liars, and journalists who dare shine some light become the story.

For the past 20 years, we have heard absolutely nothing but Peyton’s side.

It’s past time we stop killing the messenger, and let somebody else have the mic.

“Kill The Messenger”: How Long Can the Manning Machine Continue?


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