Last night, after a big herb named Kevin Draper pointed out that a Los Angeles Times report about USC’s role in the college admissions cheating scandal was written by a USC professor and included no disclosure of this brazen conflict, the writer of the piece, former ESPN writer and current Los Angeles Times columnist Arash Markazi spent the next several hours melting down about it on Twitter.
The column—for which Markazi interviewed USC’s athletic director Lynn Swann (Swann oversaw Donna Heinel, who allegedly accepted more than a million dollar in bribes from rich asshole parents)—was largely exculpatory, granting Swann plenty of room to talk about how “blindsided” he was by the whole sordid affair and vaguely promise that the athletic department would put “more eyeballs on this.”
There was initially no disclosure in the story that Markazi was a paid employee of USC, and Markazi was not happy with those pointing out the obvious conflict of interest. He defended his report variously, first by saying that actually he donates the “small paycheck” he receives from the school.
Then he said writing about his employer without disclosure is fine because he is basically a volunteer.
Then, he got testy and bragged about his sports journalism pedigree, as if working at Sports Illustrated—the company that facilitates the exploitation of thousands of unpaid bloggers, pays a sports team for exclusive access, shills for NFL owners, and shamelessly humps brands for content—is somehow exonerating.
A little later he switched tactics, explaining that, basically, he had disclosed the conflict of interest, because he had tweeted about it.
Soon, Arash got fed up!
The Los Angeles Times eventually added an editor’s note to the story acknowledging that Markazi was an employee of USC, a development that was pointed out by the Athletic co-founder Adam Hansmann.
It’s especially rich that Hansmann, a notoriously thirsty sports Twitter goober, couldn’t resist piling on given The Athletic’s own shady history of not disclosing obvious conflicts of interest. But then again, if all these sports dudes were just slightly more self-aware, this shit might not happen in the first place.