The Washington Post’s status among the heavyweights of journalistic entities isn’t exactly disputed.
It has only won 47 Pulitzer Prizes, and will forever be known for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s Watergate episode. It is the paper of record for our nation’s capital, a bastion of reliability that can be debated, but ultimately depended upon for accuracy.
So, where are the Al Jazeera critics now?
Of course, questioning the integrity of Al Jazeera was the knee-jerk reaction of Peyton Manning’s protective media corps in the wake of the international news entity’s December report that the Denver Broncos quarterback had shipments of HGH sent to his home in the name of his wife, Ashley, back in 2012.
It’s Al Jazeera they snorted, in the wake of the network’s documentary detailing the seedy world of performance-enhancing drugs. That’s not journalism, they grumbled, citing the channel’s notable anti-American bias. There’s nothing to see here, boasted the NFL, already too tied-up in a scandal of scientific proportions better suited for Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman to have enough dedicated time to investigate the illegal procedures of its Golden Boy Quarterback.
Well, well. Enter the aforementioned Washington Post with the bombshell report, only two days before Manning’s Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl L, that may detail what Manning, or at the very least, the Manning family, knew about the Al Jazeera report in the days prior to its release. According to the Post, five days before the documentary was released, two men hired by Manning’s lawyers visited the parents of the key witness, Charlie Sly. “Both men wore black overcoats and jeans and, according to a 911 call from the house that evening, one initially said he was a law enforcement officer but didn’t have a badge.’’
That’s not all. Even as this hushed controversy morphed into something out of Pulp Fiction, the Post also confirmed that Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary and crisis management consultant Manning has hired, said that the Guyer Institute, at the center of the Al Jazeera report, did indeed ship medication to Ashley Manning, though he declined to specify exactly what type.
According to the Post, Fleischer said that Manning’s goony investigation was a “natural reaction’’ to being asked to respond to anonymous allegations.
“When somebody accuses you of doing something you didn’t do — and Al Jazeera refused to tell us who it was — it’s only logical to say, ‘Who is it, and why are they doing this?’ ’’ Fleischer told the Post. “That’s human nature.’’
Is it also human nature to hire a pair of thugs, one of whom reportedly misidentified himself as a police office, in order to influence the opposing party to stand down?
It’s not too difficult to connect the dots here. Vincent and Jules visit Charlie’s parents’ house in suburban Indianapolis, looking for the ringleader of the Al Jazeera expose. On Christmas Eve, the 31-year-old Sly sat at his parent’s kitchen table and recorded a retort that included the following:
“It has come to my attention that the broadcaster Al Jazeera has somehow obtained recordings or communications of me making statements concerning a number of athletes . . . There is no truth to any statement of mine that Al Jazeera plans to air.’’
In between, there was also a 911 call. According to the Post, “By the time a police officer arrived a few minutes later, the investigators had allayed Randall and Judith’s fears.
“The Slys told the officer the men could stay, dispatch notes show.’’
Huh. Haven’t we all seen enough Liam Neeson movies to raise out antennae over this scenario?
Conveniently enough, Sly recanted his claims in the iPhone video a few days later. Was it a threat that made him do so? A payoff? Or was it influencing him to tell the truth, that everything he had said for the documentary cameras was a farce?
In the eye of fairness, the latter is on the table for debate. It’s also the party line that Manning’s lackeys, like Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, are taking as gospel.
“Pardon me while I stop laughing first,’’ King responded on Twitter to Fox’s Ben Maller who, presumably in jest, suggested that the league couldn’t allow Manning to play in the Super Bowl with the game’s integrity on the line.
Mind you, these were the same, ridiculous suggestions made last January after Deflategate burst into something flammable for the New England Patriots. So, where are those calling for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to be suspended from the Super Bowl?
Where are those frauds now?
In Manning’s back pocket. In the NFL’s back pocket, the same one where the league keeps the wallet containing the millions of dollars that the accused makes for it in endorsements.
Brady, of course, still has to deal with the ridiculous assertions by the NFL come March, when he’ll be back in court to determine his role in the egregious case of deflating footballs. Manning? He’ll probably retire after playing — win or lose — in Sunday’s Super Bowl L, which is a nice, convenient way for the league and its tongue-wagging press corps to turn the cheek instead of actually giving a damn about what was injected in the quarterback’s.
The evidence is damning. Manning went on to have a record season one year after his career was in doubt following neck surgery. Fleischer confirmed that the institute did send a package to the Manning household. The Broncos quarterback has been a shell of himself ever since the NFL began testing for HGH in 2014.
But, golly, gee, shucks. It’s “laughable.’’ Right?
Consider the source. That’s what King and the like told us when it was simply Al Jazeera.
So, what is the excuse now, folks?
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