Toucher & Rich

BOSTON (CBS) — On Monday afternoon, Chris Mortensen went on the Dan Le Batard Show to discuss his report from January which said that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were a full 2 PSI under the allowable limit for the AFC Championship Game.

This report turned out to be wrong — very wrong — but the correct information did not come out until public opinion had already been shaped.

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So given that his report caused the story to morph from a little nugget of a story into a national hysteria over air pressure, did Mort own up to his mistake?

Nope.

Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb played some of Mortensen’s audio on Tuesday morning.

Mortensen claimed that he got the story right by saying that 11 of 12 footballs measured “significantly” under, even though the difference in deflation between the Patriots’ footballs and Colts’ footballs was not very significant at all.

“Eleven, that was a significant number, that was my focus,” Mortensen said. “Because quite frankly I didn’t even know what the PSI regulations were at that time. But when I heard 11 footballs underinflated, then I got on the phone and talked to three different people and … 11 footballs was consistently verified, as it was in the Wells report by the way, but the PSI level, one of my sources said two pounds under, and another one said ‘significantly underinflated.’ I used both those terms.”

Fred, admitting he’s not an esteemed professional journalist, noted that a basic tenet of journalism says that a reporter must confirm information with a second source before reporting it as news. The fact that only one source gave the “2 PSI below” information means it should not have gone public. (The fact that it was proven to be false confirmed that as well.)

Mortensen’s excuse that he’s still trying to figure out how Twitter works is also a terrible, unacceptable excuse. Fred noted that every single member of the sports media is “constantly trying to race to put things on Twitter.”

Back to Mort: “If I had simply reported, which I did include in the original report, that 11 footballs were found to be significantly underinflated, what would the reaction have been? The same, I think. Which is the descriptive narrative that I actually did change it to and correct it.”

This is simply not true.

“He never did,” Rich said.

“The story’s the same,” Fred said.

“Your tweet is still up, and your [ESPN.com] story has not changed. The line about the 2 PSI is still there,” Rich said. “So what the hell is he talking about?”

Overall, Fred came away from Mortensen’s interview thinking that he’s not very smart.

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“He’s a dullard. I mean, he’s really an idiot,” Fred said. “Which makes you think, I guess all you have to do to be an ESPN reporter is be able to use a BlackBerry. Because again, you can judge someone’s intelligence by the way they lie, or the way they explain themselves. [Mortensen said] ‘I could have done a better job of vetting the report.’ OK, so you’re a bad reporter. You could have done a better job? Yes, you took one source, who I guess you had very limited contact with, and you ran with that.”

Fred added: “People are getting focused on him putting out another tweet or him changing the article or ESPN taking the article down, but the thing that you should look at is just how shoddy the reporting was in the first place.”

Listen to Fred and Rich tear apart Mortensen’s excuses below:

Later, CBSBostonSports.com’s Michael Hurley joined the program to discuss Mortensen.

“According to him, the only mistake he made really was to not correct it on Twitter. What about correcting it on ESPN.com where it’s still alive?” Hurley said. “There was never any effort at all to do that. And to say he doesn’t know how Twitter works — you type words in and you hit ‘Tweet.’ That’s how Twitter works.”

Hurley said that Mortensen’s explanation that he went on TV the next day to clarify it falls well short of accepting any blame.

“That means you got it wrong in your report,” Hurley said, “and you didn’t fix it and you never corrected it and you never issued any sort of update on the initial story, because it’s still living there in print. And he comes from a print background, so it should mean a lot more to fix that than to go on TV and clarify.”

The fact that Mortensen still claims to be correct on the “significantly underinflated” portion of the report while excusing his own misreporting on the 2 PSI detail is what bothered Hurley more than anything.

“For him to still think it doesn’t really matter is pathetic,” Hurley said.

Hurley also listed a history of Mortensen’s misreporting, including a report that Michael Vick was unlikely to be indicted on dogfighting charges, a report that said Eli Manning would miss a month of the 2007 season, and a Mortensen report which said the Texans were definitely going to draft Reggie Bush with the No. 1 overall pick.

After the Texans picked Mario Williams with that pick, Mortensen “declared that he had never expected Bush to be chosen first.” The source of that information? That would be ESPN.com.

Listen to Michael Hurley’s conversation with Toucher & Rich below:

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UPDATE: Mortensen finally deleted the tweet with the false information late Tuesday morning.