ESPN Apologizes For Cockfighting Story, But Isn't Sure Why

So, this is intersting. A few weeks back, Mike Ogle, a freelance reporter for ESPN Page 2 (and, when they deign to publish, Page 3), wrote a story about cockfighting in Guam. We'd link to the story, but ESPN has already taken it off the Web site. And this is where it gets interesting.

Ogle is a freelancer for ESPN, and his story, written after visiting a family member in Guam, was universally blasted by people who live in Guam, even inspiring legislation from Guam's cute impersonation of a Congress. The "tsunami of uproar" — as one Guam columnist called it — was overwhelming, to the point that ESPN Communications flak Paul Melvin called into KUAM Radio and formally apologized for the story. Not just that: He pretty much threw Ogle (whose story was presumably fact-checked and run through the editing ringer) under the bus.

Tony Blaz (KUAM): What is your title sir at ESPN for the benefit of our listening audience?

Paul Melvin (ESPN): I'm with ESPN Communications. I am aware of the piece and actually I was calling because I do have an apology for that.

KUAM: And if you would Mr. Melvin, relay that apology there are thousands of people listening to you right now, and I think we would welcome this apology.

ESPN: One clarification - Mike Ogle is a freelance writer for us.

KUAM: And so he doesn't work for ESPN?

ESPN: He is not an ESPN employee. ESPN.com sincerely apologizes for the use of the hearsay in regards to families and daughters and for any directly or indirectly offensive statements in the story that ran about cockfighting on Guam. It was insensitive, inappropriate and the story has been removed from the site and its archives.

Now. ESPN.com, as anyone who has read the site knows, uses a ton of freelancers; Page 2 and (especially) Page 3 are stacked with them. Ogle might not have been an ESPN employee, but that doesn't mean he hacked into ESPN.com and just threw the story up there. And ESPN has never said anything in the story was wrong. But now the story is gone, Ogle looks like a jerk, his Page 3 email address no longer works and ESPN keeps its grubby mitts clean. But why? Is this what happens anytime anybody so much as farts in protest about an ESPN story? Anybody know what's going on here? Wanna drop us a line?

Demanding Retraction And Apology From Walt Disney Company [GuamLegislature.com]
ESPN Apologizes On KUAM Radio [KUAM.com]

(Update: Google, God bless 'em, have cached the cockfighting story. Don't tell those angry Guamites! Guamians? Guamans?)