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D.C. talk radio guys accuse Ken Rosenthal of making up quotes

Oct 10, 2012, 11:40 AM EDT

Rosenthal bow tie

I linked Ken Rosenthal’s story from this morning in which he quotes an anonymous Nationals player saying that the Nats would be up 2-0 if they had Stephen Strasburg.  A couple of people in the comments who don’t like anyone criticizing the Nats decision in this regard suggested that Rosenthal was simply making it up. Never mind that he’s one of the most respected reporters in the business.

But it’s not just the die hards in comment threads doing it. Two D.C. talk radio hosts had Rosenthal on the air this morning and they did it too:

And so it was that Rosenthal appeared on 106.7 The Fan’s Junkies program Wednesday morning, and was greeted by Eric Bickel, incredulously asking whether “one player on the Nats actually told you that this team would be 2-0 if Strasburg was there?”

“No, I just made that up,” Rosenthal replied.

There was some prickly back and forth, after which Bickel said “You’re kind of being a [jerk], to be honest with you,” Bickel said. “I don’t really understand why.”  Some people on Twitter said that, rather than “jerk,” Bickel said “dick.” Rosenthal took the high road and explained in quite compelling terms, I believe, why it’s silly to accuse him of such a thing or of anti-Nationals bias in general.

I’m told by people who are familiar with the show that Bickel and The Fan’s Junkies is not exactly serious media so I guess it’s not terribly surprising that they’d do such a thing.  But really, the fact that anyone would accuse Ken Rosenthal of making up quotes is simply unhinged.

Also unhinged: the degree to which fans in forums and now, apparently, radio hosts have gone to accuse anyone who writes or says things that don’t flatter their rooting interests as “biased,” and suggesting that it calls their factual assertions into question. Of course bias exists, but bias influences opinion for the most part. It does not necessarily call one’s factual reporting or analysis into question.

To the extent it does, it’s almost always more about not seeing the full picture or unconsciously tuning out data that doesn’t jibe with the bias.  It does not, outside of the most abjectly partisan news outlets, lead to people actually fabricating things like quotes from whole cloth.

  1. illcomm - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    you call what you write factual reporting. lol. it facts, aka your silly opinions more than anything. I rarely see facts in your articles unless you consider opinions of others facts now?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      When have I ever claimed to be a reporter? I am an opinion writer. I’ve always been quite clear about that.

    • El Bravo - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:49 AM

      It’s a blog, it’s supposed to have color and opinion intertwined with the baseball news of the day.

    • mrdry14 - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      Sounds like the Nats and their fans are wilting under the pressure.

  2. chill1184 - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Isn’t cute? Media mental midgets are fighting among themselves. How sweet

    • chill1184 - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      *Isn’t it cute

      Can we get an edit function please?

      • Gobias Industries - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        stopp maiking you’re mistaiks n than you wont need edit funktion

      • Gobias Industries - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

        Ah crap, edit function please?

      • Cris E - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        I hate you and I want a divorce.

      • Cris E - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Oh crap, I meant “Please pass the salt.”

        Can we get an edit function please?

  3. no14mike - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Did you listen to the clip or are you just reporting what someone else said? Bickel said many times (and to Rosenthal directly) that he was by no means accusing Ken up making anything up, just that he was very surprised a player would say that. Even before they got to that question, Ken was acting like a dick on air. It was weird.

    • goskinsvt - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      This, it was like Ken came in looking for a fight.

  4. El Bravo - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    “Pie Rulz” – El Bravo (I swear, I said that)

    • paperlions - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      You’re biased.

    • bmorelikeme - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Felix never did put it together sadly

  5. rayburns - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    It’s called diverting the message.

    Instead of talking about the substance of the report (i.e. whether or not the Nats would be better with Strasburg available), we’re talking about Rosenthal instead.

    It’s a very convenient way of avoiding discussing the original point.

    • mybrunoblog - Oct 10, 2012 at 5:58 PM

      Like the leader of the free world spending his time talking about Big Bird?

    • pensfan603 - Oct 10, 2012 at 9:21 PM

      Id agree exept for the point that we are still talking about strasburg.

  6. metalhead387 - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    yes, you are an opinion writer, we can all see this by your constant articles bashing the nats. boo hoo the braves lost, bitter much?

    • raysfan1 - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:24 PM

      Poor, sad commenter who can’t tell the difference between an anti-Nats post (which this isn’t) and one that says delusional fans whose knee-jerk reaction to Rosenthal’s report is that he must be lying is, we’ll, rather delusional.

  7. philsgamer - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    As a Phillies fan, I’m coming to the realization that this is what we must have looked like circa 2007.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      I have to agree with Mr. Clean and El Bravo…..

      In other news, the Sun rose in West today

      • raysfan1 - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:26 PM

        The sun rose in the west instead of the east, that is news!

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      How the hell did that happen? That was supposed to go above……

      As to your comment, I agree

      • philsgamer - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:13 PM

        Yeah I was wondering what you meant and was searching the previous comments for the context :)

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      As a Phillies fan, I’m coming to the realization that this is what we must have looked like circa 2007.

      And 2008, 2009, 2010… I’m fairly certain this is still the case albeit muted somewhat this year.

      • paperlions - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        …and 2011.

        It always looks different when you are on the other side….doesn’t it. Perspective is a valuable thing.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 10, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        Not really because I never was in that side (You forget, I’ve been following the Phillies since ’85 and saw those awful Phillies ’90s teams).

        The over the top reactions and sense of entitlements are all equally ridiculous regardless of the fan base. My perspective is fine thank you very much.

  8. psr179 - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    the junkies have been exceptionally defensive of the nats the whole season. no reason to stop now.

    • goskinsvt - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

      I mean, listen that audio. Ken was a total dick the whole time.

  9. elmaquino - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Sports talk radio thinks their local team is being biased against by the national media. Woah.

    • mybrunoblog - Oct 10, 2012 at 6:01 PM

      Sports talk radio guys are like bloggers except they have microphones. They spew opinions and that is fine except many listeners actually believe everything these guys spit out at them. You know the old saying about opinions.
      When people start to figure all this out we’ll all be better off.

  10. goodellisruiningtheleague - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Look at this… Another redundant “Craig Calcatta bashes the Nationals” story. Is it because you can’t find anything else to talk about relating to the MLB?

    • goodellisruiningtheleague - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM


  11. rtfinch - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    1) The Junkies never accused him of making up the article, they were simply asking, Rosenthal came out of the gates defensive. 2) Rosenthal makes it seem like a nationals player walked up to him and said “if we had strass we’d up 2-0” which is highly doubtful the case. probably more of “would strass help now” and answering the question. However typical media, taking quotes out of context and running with it.

  12. illcomm - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Craig. your an opinion writer okay. just to be more clear that I like opinion writers who write based on facts. you are an opinion writer that writes about others opinions. you are pretty much like a writer for a gossip magazine or tabloids you see in the grocery checkout line.

    • El Bravo - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      Honestly, why keep coming back reading his posts and commenting on them?

    • raysfan1 - Oct 10, 2012 at 11:32 PM

      Do you not understand what blogs are/ what bloggers do?

      The opinion pieces you want are on the op-ed page of your local paper’s sport section.

  13. mdpickles - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    DC has a sports talk radio show?

    • rockthered1286 - Oct 10, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      I was shocked too. From what I’ve heard (driving in the area from time to time) It’s mostly one of 3 topics:
      -Dan Snyder sucks
      -Strasburg naysayers suck
      -Skins suck

      It’s more complaint radio than sports radio really.

    • Paul Zummo - Oct 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM

      There are actually two local sports radio stations (one FM, one AM) plus the national ESPN affiliate. Between the three networks there is one semi-listenable show. The topics on the two local stations range from complaining about how the Redskins suck to how the Redskins are on the verge of the Super Bowl. Sometimes they talk about the Nationals, but after tomorrow they might not even feel obligated to talk about them.

  14. echech88 - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    I tend to believe there is always some degree of fire where there is smoke. Reporters definitely sensationalize for page views but there is too much to lose for them to outright lie.

    I’m pretty sure Rosenthal wouldn’t make this the story he risked his credibility and career for.

    • mazblast - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      What’s to lose? Rosenthal hides behind the “anonymous sources” defense, then, when his credibility is challenged, counts on his media pals to defend him.

      Oh, right, no “reporter” has ever made sh** up to stir the pot and get a headline. Then they get mad when players won’t talk to them, and make up more sh**.

      • bklynbaseball - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:04 PM

        Sure, reporters make up stuff just to get a headline…..and exactly how long do you think they’d be working in the industry if they destroyed their own credibility by making things up?? Being an effective, credible reporter is completely dependent on one’s ability to cultivate reliable sources, which they cannot do if the players/managers/coaches/front office personnel do not trust them. So they get their one headline, and then they’re out of a job. Not a real good strategy. Just saying.

  15. schlom - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    At least in the first part of the interview it seems like Rosenthal is overly defensive on the radio hosts asking questions about his story. I understand that no one likes their work questioned but did he really expect to go on a radio show and not be questioned on an article he wrote about the local team?

    However the radio hosts question of “Why do you have an anti-DC attitude” was a little ridiculous but again, what does he expect? He’s on local sports radio. And he was being kind of a dick.

  16. Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Craig Calcaterra – Oct 10, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    “If you think that Ken Rosenthal is manufacturing quotes, you’re beyond help.”

    • mattraw - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      Agreed – Robo don’t play that!

  17. joejaws75 - Oct 10, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Screw the Nationals. And I stand by my comments

  18. dowhatifeellike - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Of course he was defensive – they were going after him, not his work.

    If someone is displeased with my work, fine, I’ll listen and do better next time… but God help them if they start challenging my integrity.

  19. paperlions - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Damn, Nats fans really are like Philly bandwagon fans. First, they bitch that their team doesn’t get enough coverage. Then, they bitch when the team does get coverage because every piece is a glowing review of Natty awesomeness.

    Look guys (and gals), when your team gets actual coverage, most of it will be of the neutral or negative/critical variety, comes with the territory. You guys are whiney about obviously neutral comments. I haven’t seen Craig rip the Nats all day (other than to continue to question the Strasburg shut down, which he’s been doing since before it happened), if you have seen it…it is in your imagination.

  20. bklynbaseball - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Remember, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion; however, no one is entitled to his or her own FACTS.

    • dowhatifeellike - Oct 10, 2012 at 3:32 PM

      Thanks, Mitt.

  21. butchhuskey - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I listened to the audio and no one was accusing Rosenthal of making up a quote- they were just surprised that a Nationals player would be so open about their disagreement with the decision. The question of whether someone actually said that was asked in a “Really? I find that surprising!” kind of way and not “Ken, do you actually think we’d believe such a ridiculous quote?”.

  22. tomtravis76 - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    The Junkies(EB, Cakes, Lurch and JP) are a guys morning show, they are pretty funny. They started the interview by saying they met Kens sister, then back handed asked him about making up the quote. Ken last was on with them over a decade ago when they were more about giving away free boob jobs, getting plastered on-air, etc. Kens had to be thinking they were just trying to mess with him and he didn’t want any part of it, Ken wanted to talk baseball and the Nats, not play into joking around.

    It is totally overblown and the Junkies saw an opportunity to gain “national media” attention and it has worked. The Junkies do’t have great ratings in DC and CBS is bringing in their national sports syndicated lineup, so anything to keep their job has to be done.

  23. madhatternalice - Oct 10, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    But really, the fact that anyone would accuse Ken Rosenthal of making up quotes is simply unhinged.

    But Ken Rosenthal DOES make shit up, and he’s been called on it:

    He’s also proven to be a whiny douche:

    But yeah, as stated above, Ken came into this appearance looking for a fight.

    • elibolender - Oct 10, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      The link to the 700 Club in no way proves that he has made quotes up before like you claim. Just because Roy Halladay calls it “bad reporting” doesn’t mean that Rosenthal didn’t actually talk to two scouts who were worried about Halladay’s drop in velocity. Of course the player in question is going to say there is nothing to worry about.

      It’s also probably relevant to point out that Halladay’s average fastball velocity ended up down about 1.4 mph less than the year before, he spent 6 weeks on the DL, had the worst ERA of his career, the lowest K/9 in 4 years, and his worst BB/9 and FIP since 2004.

      • madhatternalice - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        I feel so schooled! An anonymous internet nobody tried to correct me!

        I couldn’t care less about Halladay. My point was that Ken Rosenthal ain’t no saint, and listening to the audio clip should prove that to anyone. He’s also got a track record of not getting along well with people.

        But yes, feel free to spew Halladay statistics at me. Because nothing proves that Ken Rosenthal is an idiot like a justification for Halladay’s lowered velocity.

  24. realgone2 - Oct 10, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    I like Bowties.

  25. protectthishouse54 - Oct 10, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Seems to me that this type of criticism and inquiry should be expected when you quote an anonymous source.

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