In s story titled “How a curmudgeonly old reporter exposed the FIFA scandal that toppled Sepp Blatter,” the Washington Post credits reporter Andrew Jennings with breaking the FIFA story and causing the eventual arrest of the FIFA leadership.
Here at the BiteCastle, we’ve learned — unlike Oprah — to be skeptical of such media narratives. Nevertheless, the old curmudgeon does give good sound bite:
This journalism business is easy, you know. You just find some disgraceful, disgustingly corrupt people and you work on it! You have to. That’s what we do. The rest of the media gets far too cozy with them.
According to the Post, “He [Jenkins] said that most sports reporters wouldn’t touch these subjects for fear of losing access to top officials and athletes.”
That caught our eye. News articles frequently cite anonymous sources. Like “Sources at the Pentagon say . . .” Sometimes that could be an actual surreptitious source, afraid of being named. But mostly, it’s just a way for the government to to feed a story to a reporter without having to take responsibility for the consequences. Why do reporters play along? Because they’re afraid of losing access if they don’t.
When Jennings started investigating FIFA, he knew he would only get denials from top management. So he sought out the middle managers instead. His method of alerting them to his interest was simple. He went to a FIFA press conference and publicly asked“Have you ever taken a bribe?”
Six weeks later, he had his Deep Throat.