Charissa Thompson’s shocking admission that she made up sideline reports has caused outrage across America.
The Fox Sports host on Saturday (AEDT) responded to the backlash for the first time — after dropping the bomb about her previous sideline reporting jobs on Thursday.
As reported by The New York Post, Thompson’s comments haven’t sat well with those in the sports media field, especially from those who currently hold a sideline reporting gig.
Thompson was on the most recent edition of the “Pardon My Take” podcast when she revealed to hosts Dan Katz and PFT Commenter that she would make up her reports if a coach had come out of the locker room late or had been withholding information.
The clip of Thompson’s comments created a firestorm of criticism with several sports media personalities criticising her for the flippant admission.
“Young reporters: This is not normal or ethical,” ESPN college football reporter Molly McGrath wrote in a scathing response on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Coaches and players trust us with sensitive information, and if they know that you’re dishonest and don’t take your role seriously, you’ve lost all trust and credibility.”
Former NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya also expressed her disappointment in Thompson.
“Honestly, this makes me sad,” Tafoya posted on X.
“Charissa is a nice person, but this is professional fraud. If a coach won’t talk to you at halftime, you say that. And if there is no report, then you just don’t file a report at half time. It’s pretty simple. journalistic integrity is paramount.”
Fellow ESPN college football reporter Morgan Uber also called out Thompson for her comments and asserted that by doing that, Thompson only gave credence to the stereotype that sideline reporters are just “eye candy.”
“Good sideline reporters do their homework, talk to players and coaches throughout the week & on game day and most definitely don’t make up reports. Period. There’s still journalism involved, despite what you may think,” Uber wrote on X.
In the full interview, Thompson did explain the lengths that sideline reporters have to go to in order to prep for a game each week.
She added that the return on investment for the amount of work that has to be done for the job and what ends up on air is part of why she doesn’t sideline report any longer.
CBS NFL and NCAA basketball sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson joined in the criticism.
“This is absolutely not ok, not the norm and upsetting on so many levels,” Wolfson wrote on X. “I take my job very seriously, I hold myself accountable for all I say, I build trust with coaches and never make something up. I know my fellow reporters do the same.”
In a post on X, Tulane football sideline reporter Maddy Hudak asked why there wouldn’t be game analysis brought up instead of just making up a report.
“Have we considered providing analysis on the game of football instead?” Hudak wrote. “How LOS battle is being won/lost by initial quickness? UOH in pass rush the press box can’t see? Not setting women back by making shit up?”
Thompson didn’t seem safe from criticism even from those at her own network.
She is now a host for Fox Sports’ “Fox NFL Kickoff” and Amazon’s studio coverage for “Thursday Night Football, but that didn’t keep NFL on Fox’s Laura Okmin from commenting on the matter.
“THE privilege of a sideline role is being the 1 person in the entire world who has the opportunity to ask coaches what’s happening in that moment,” Okmin wrote on X. “I can’t express the amount of time it takes to build that trust. Devastated w/the texts I’m getting asking if this is ok. No. Never.”
Thompson did have some who came to her defence, including former NFL Network host Rachel Bonnetta.
Bonnetta criticised McGrath’s response and suggested that she didn’t listen to the full interview.
“To young reporters: support other women in the industry cause at the end of the day we’re the only ones that have each others backs. CT is a pro. Period,” she wrote on X.
Thompson has not publicly responded to the backlash over her comments.
Thompson on Saturday moved to clarify her explosive comments.
“Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room,” Thompson wrote on Instagram.
“I have a responsibility to myself and my employers to clarify what is being reported. When on a podcast this week, I said I would make up reports early in my career when I worked as a sideline reporter before I transitioned to my current host role.
“Working in media I understand how important words are and I chose the wrong words to describe the situation. I’m sorry. I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sports broadcaster.
“In the absence of a coach providing any information that could further my report I would use information that I learned and saw during the first half to create my report.
“I have nothing but respect for sideline reporters and for the tireless work they put in behind the scenes and on the field,” she continued.
“I am only appreciative and humbled to work alongside some of the best in the business and call them some of my best friends.”
— with New York Post
Originally published as ‘Not OK’: America in meltdown over reporter’s sideline act