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Why on Earth would the Miami New Times give its records to Major League Baseball?

Feb 7, 2013, 7:45 AM EDT

press hat

There were a pretty astonishing couple of passages from the Miami New Times story from yesterday, in which it talked about how Major League Baseball has requested all of its documents for its investigation:

Here’s the truth: We haven’t yet decided what do with the records from Tony Bosch’s clinic … The question of whether to release the records [to Major League Baseball] is thorny, and there are few precedents. They were given to us by a source who requested anonymity. We will not divulge that person’s name. We take this responsibility very seriously … Of course, we do want justice. And as a parent of three kids who play sports, I want badly to discourage use of these drugs that endanger peoples’ health … We will decide in the next few weeks what to do with the trove of records. We will do the right thing.

Buster Olney ready this and didn’t mince words at all:

I am in 100% agreement with Olney here. Major League Baseball is a business, not the government. If the New Times’ exposé was about goings on at General Motors, there would be zero chance at all that it would turn the records of its reporting over to General Motors management, so why on Earth is it considering it now?

This can only be explained by that allusion to the editor’s kids — please, someone, think of the children — and the very successful, century-long campaign by Major League Baseball to make people think that it is some sort of national institution instead of a for-profit business. It already got Congress and the Supreme Court to agree that it’s something greater than a business, getting an antitrust exemption out of them. It likewise pulled that stuff with federal agents and prosecutors during the course of George Mitchell’s investigation, getting them to use their power to give Major League Baseball something it would not have otherwise gotten (i.e. coerced/bargained cooperation from accused drug dealers) because, well, just because.

Now a newspaper.

I don’t tend to publicly wave the banner of the free press as much as people who went to journalism school and who have spent years in the newspaper business do, but in this case I am firmly in that camp. The New Times’ responsibility is not to Major League Baseball. It’s to its readers. The idea that they are even considering handing over those records is pretty insane to me.

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