Keller, We Have a Problem

Did Murray Chass do it again?  Did he just go another full column without disclosing his position on the HoF’s Veterans Committee?  Forget his sentiments about Marvin Miller, which don’t seem to be at all off-base.  Why does he refuse to acknowledge his membership on the committee once again? One could argue that he deliberately withholds information about the committee (listed here) by saying

"the new veterans committee, made up largely of 61 living Hall of Fame players, has had Miller on its composite ballot (executives, managers and umpires) in 2003 and again this year. It rejected him both times."

There is no good reason for Chass to describe the makeup of the Veterans Committee in piecemeal fashion, when an extra phrase would have given readers information about the participation of former Frick and Spink winners on the committee. Why is this disclosure so hard for him?

26 comments… add one
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    Matt Santos March 1, 2007, 8:32 am
  • Cuban +Cubs = Money. Cuban is so Smart, He could be next George?
    If by that you mean the building of a pro sports team that’s completely founded on offense, very little attention to defense or fundamentals, who’s best player almost always comes up short when it matters the most, makes moves more with his heart than his mind, and is frequently elimated from the playoffs by lesser teams – YES! In that way, they are essentially the same.

    Brad March 1, 2007, 9:02 am
  • wow…did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning brad?…matt was talking about money, not building a championship caliber franchise which has so completely dominated its sport throughout history [including the current owner’s personal history with the team], that the organization is universally hated outside of its own family of fans…nice legacy…
    as for the comparison, cuban has a lot of money, george has a lot of money…cuban likes to spend money and be over-involved in team operations, george liked to spend money and be over-involved in team operations…however, cuban has a long way to go before we compare his sports success with george’s….

    dc March 1, 2007, 9:12 am
  • But, it is a very smart thing to do for Cuban.

    Brad March 1, 2007, 9:13 am
  • Can we keep this on topic, perhaps?!

    SF March 1, 2007, 9:13 am
  • Isn’t it too easy to complain about Murray Chass?

    Steve March 1, 2007, 9:21 am
  • sorry sf…i was a contributor in getting this off topic…making fun of murray and others like him is like shooting fish in a barrel…i agree with you that it seems like such a simple honest disclosure that i see 3 possible explanations:
    ..the journalist in him is stuck in third person
    ..he figures everyone knows he is a hall of famer, therefore on the committee
    ..he can play both sides of an argument, and criticize the committee [and himself ironically] when it’s convenient

    dc March 1, 2007, 9:42 am
  • You forget, SF, that Chass knows so much more than we do about everything. After all, he has 25 years of reputastion as a “Hall of Fame” sportswriter. What do we have, really?

    Paul SF March 1, 2007, 10:00 am
  • Looks like the Wall Street Journal realizes what we’ve known for a long time: Murrey Chass = (insert not kind word here).

    KC SF March 1, 2007, 11:49 am
  • Typically Chass’ opinions are the issue. Sometimes his ethics have come up as a cause for concern as well (the Drew tampering BS comes to mind, as well as his previous non-disclosure of his position on the Vets committee). In this case, it’s like a “third strike and you’re out” situation, illustrating a pattern of ethical transgressions that can no longer be dismissed as isolated or as “on the borderline”. He chose to devote his column to an issue, the Miller vote, in which he has a personal say. He is a voting member of the Vets committee. He once again fails to disclose his relationship to the vote, and in fact writes with complete deception as to his own standing. This is a case for the Times’ Ombudsman, frankly. Chass, at this point, shouldn’t be allowed to continue at the paper, as far as I am concerned. This has nothing to do with whether I agree or disagree with him (in this case, I completely agree with Chass!), but whether a newspaper should be giving space to a writer who has now shown himself to be journalistically and ethically compromised.

    SF March 1, 2007, 11:55 am
  • SF, you a right on point. I have disagreed you you in the past on him but this time it seems to be a train on continual lapse in ethical judgement by Chass. Where are the editors?

    Seth March 1, 2007, 12:19 pm
  • i think you guys are going overboard with this particular criticism…see the 2nd point from my 9:42am post…his hall of fame membership is hardly a secret [google his name and several entries appear, his wikepedia entry leads off with that detail]…for all we know, he’s mentioned it in a previous article that we missed…it shouldn’t be necessary for him to mention it every time he discusses the hof…that seems like an unfair requirement, almost on a par with telling sf he has to disclose his allegiance to the sox in every post…to call for the guy’s firing feels a bit like you’re swatting flies with a telephone pole…frankly some of the murray rhetoric seems like a witch hunt to me…

    dc March 1, 2007, 9:16 pm
  • his hall of fame membership is hardly a secret
    for all we know, he’s mentioned it in a previous article that we missed

    These are both irrelevant, dc, I am sorry to say.

    SF March 1, 2007, 9:24 pm
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  • There’s no catch-all provision where if you mention something in a previous article you no longer have to mention it ever again, dc. Disclosing conflicts of interest in every article or column in which those conflicts may possibly appear to arise is one of the cardinal rules of journalism. Transparency (and a willingness to promptly admit mistakes, another of Chass’ problem areas) is the only way to earn and keep your readers’ trust.
    For a real life example: The newspaper I work for is owned by a media conglomerate that also owns several cable TV networks. When we run a story involving one of those networks, or one of the other papers in the chain, or any big news about the corporate parent, it ALWAYS includes a sentence involving the phrase, “[Company X], which also owns [Newspaper Y] …”. It’s never not done, even though most people who read our paper know that already.
    Chass’ failing to disclose such a staggering conflict — and twice, no less — is unconscionable. As I said in my criticism of the Boston press corps, if Chass were writing for another section of the newspaper, he would not be allowed to get away with this. One would think that the NYT would be especially sensitive to potential ethical lapses by all its reporters considering how much egg it’s had to wipe off its face in recent years.

    Paul SF March 2, 2007, 12:32 am
  • …you guys are overreacting…
    sf, my comments are especially relevant…paul’s example of a conflict of interest with the relationships of corporate entities is extreme, really stretches the point beyond reasonableness, and is not applicable to the relatively benign detail that chass is in the hall of fame, and it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of an “unconscionable” omission for him to fail to mention it in every article, and in no way compares to the other accusations leveled at the paper in recent times…and even if he did mention it every time you guys would accuse him of bragging…the guy can’t win…there are far more glaring omissions you can pick up on…
    …a hypothetical that would rise to the level appropriate for your harsh critism would be if a guest writer submitted a piece attempting to debunk al gore’s global warming theories, but neither the author or the paper disclosed the fact that the author was on the board of directors of a major oil company…or if al were connected with an oil company criticized for drilling in an environmentally sensitive region and didn’t disclose that to his movie fans…a sports example might be for someone connected to the game to go on record as saying he’s never seen substance abuse in baseball only for us to find out later that he has an interest in a company that sells the stuff…those would seem to be more serious oversights, and more deserving of your passion than murray’s failure to tell us what’s starting to be common knowledge…

    dc March 2, 2007, 1:27 am
  • Just because Chass doesn’t write about life or death issues or issues with massive personal financial implications does not mean he is not accountable to journalistic standards, dc. That’s the bottom line.
    Forgiving him because he only writes about baseball is not acceptable.

    SF March 2, 2007, 2:11 am
  • “…a hypothetical that would rise to the level appropriate for your harsh critism would be if a guest writer submitted a piece attempting to debunk al gore’s global warming theories, but neither the author or the paper disclosed the fact that the author was on the board of directors of a major oil company…”
    You’re right, that would become a huge scandal, and the paper would be slammed from all sides. But an ethical lapse is an ethical lapse, and Murray is breaking the rules. As Paul said, if this were anything but a sports section, it would be a major problem. Especially when you consider the pedestal (scroll down) this guy puts himself on over bloggers, e-mailers, and statheads, (he’s not alone among journalists here, obviously) it’s the height of hypocrisy for him to continue to hold himself to a standard different from that any other journalist must adhere to.

    desturbd1 March 2, 2007, 2:18 am
  • …i’m not forgiving him sf because i don’t believe he’s done anything wrong by not disclosing such a widely known fact…there’s nothing to forgive…does the profession have a watchdog that ought to come in and reprimand, fine, imprison the guy for this alleged transgression, or is the moral indignation exclusively emanating from this site?…i gave you the more extreme examples to provide some perspective to measure your outrage against, not to trivialize that this is about baseball…d-1 said in his comments: “…if this were anything but a sports section, it would be a major problem…” …so, why is that exactly?…are we the only ones who care about journalistic ethics?…i’m really trying to understand and not be a d— about it, but frankly i think it’s blown way out of proportion…i fully understood your reaction to the alleged tampering story, and i don’t want to make this about you simply not liking murray because of his frequent unflattering pieces about the sox, but it feels like it this time…

    dc March 2, 2007, 7:57 am
  • dc:
    You clearly aren’t going to move on this issue, which is one of simple journalistic ethics. Chass has violated them in both cases with his HoF stories, it’s not really that gray an area. In his story he calls to task the Veterans committee, of which he is a member, without disclosing this membership. It is not the reader’s responsibility to “know” that Chass is on this committee. It’s a very simple principle.

    SF March 2, 2007, 9:08 am
  • From Wikipedia:
    Full disclosure in media refers to disclosing the interests of the writer which may bear on the subject being written about.
    Pretty cut and dry, to me.

    SF March 2, 2007, 9:20 am
  • dc your points are very misguided. The standard in his proffesion is to declare any conflicts even interest (usually even just percieved onces to clarify) and he did not do this. The problem dc is where would you declare a stoping point? You do not have to forgive him, but to not think he is wrong under the guidelines of his profession is just silly and ignorant. Full Disclosure: I love Chass’s work.

    Seth March 2, 2007, 11:05 am
  • Also I would not lump this issue together with the JD Drew article. In the Drew article I do believe that Chass spoke with sources who gave (implied) the things he wrote about.

    Seth March 2, 2007, 11:07 am
  • “d-1 said in his comments: “…if this were anything but a sports section, it would be a major problem…” …so, why is that exactly?…”
    DC, because if you were to write a column critising, say, the White House without disclosing that you are a member of Nancy Pelosi’s staff — and even if the fact that you are a member of her staff is pretty well known — there would be flags flying all over the place. On Op-Ed pages, columnists are identified with their relevant interest in the topic. Staff columnists are held to a standard in which they self-identify any potential conflicts that might mislead a reader. Read a story in the Boston Globe about NESN and you will find — or you should — the disclaimer that the Red Sox, who own NESN also own a stake in the Globe. Does anyone in Boston who cares about NESN or read the Globe not know this fact by now? Unlikely. But it gives the readers all the relevant information to draw their own conclusions, and it shows the publication is interested in providing that information *without hidden agendas.* Chass by not disclosing the fact that he’s a member of the board he is discussing in his column certainly goes against this core journalistic philosophy.

    Paul SF March 2, 2007, 12:21 pm
  • so i’m:
    look guys, if you want to continue to bash murray go ahead…i just like to see that you’re being fair about it, and not just getting revenge for his unflattering sox stories…frankly i don’t care if you think he’s breaking some code or not [it’s benign as far as i’m concerned], but i do respect your opinion and knowledge of the subject paul…like i said, i don’t think the need to disclose the relationships of companies is on the same level as the need for murray to tell us he’s in the hall of fame [i gave you some good examples]…as long as you’re being consistent and not singling him out for something that most writers and broadcasters probably do, then fair enough….it’s not worth putting the energy into the kind of argument seth wanted to wage…

    dc March 2, 2007, 4:54 pm
  • dc:
    Chass’ story, on the merits of his opinion, is spot on. This has nothing at all to do with the Red Sox or whether he is right about Marvin Miller (he is). For heck’s sake, YF was the first person to flag this oversight in a column many months ago, and more than one YF has chimed in here agreeing with this take on things. Like I have said here before, not everything is about the Sox and the Yanks. Sometimes they are just about what they are about.
    This is journalism 101 that he’s failing. I have an equally big issue with the Times and their editors. This is either a terrible oversight or general laxity on their part. Neither is good.

    SF March 2, 2007, 5:05 pm

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