BOSTON (CBS) — On Monday afternoon, ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen essentially said that his major mistake in reporting the DeflateGate bombshell back in January is that he never issued a correction on Twitter.
“Twitter, I’m still trying to figure it out,” Mortensen said on the Dan LeBatard Show.
Well, on Tuesday morning, Mortensen figured out how to hit the “Delete” button, as he finally deleted the tweet with false information on it.
The tweet stated that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 footballs in the AFC Championship Game were measured at a full 2 PSI under the allowable range. The tweet was originally sent out to the world on Jan. 20 at 10:57 p.m., and it single-handedly launched the story about underinflated footballs into a national phenomenon.
Yet on Monday, Mortensen addressed the report, noting that he didn’t do his job as a reporter to obtain a second source on the exact PSI measurements. Yet he said he clarified on television the day after making the report, so he is not responsible for the firestorm that followed.
“I can understand after reading the Wells report … that could somebody generalize two pounds under based on the range of 12.5 to 13.5? Yeah, they could have,” Mortensen said. “Now that’s my job to do a better vetting job as a journalist. But let me ask you this question: If I had simply reported, which I did include in the original report, that 11 footballs were found to be significantly under inflated, what would the reaction have been? The same, I think.”
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Mortensen stuck by his sources who told him that the balls were “significantly underinflated,” while noting that the source that gave him the 2 PSI might have generalized instead of purposefully presented false information.
Regardless, the tweet is now down.
“I already had changed the descriptive tone. And I did with our news desk, pretty early, to ‘significantly underinflated.’ And I will never retract that,” Mortensen said Monday. “The two pounds PSI, that was obviously an error and clarified and corrected. If you want to call it a retraction. … what I didn’t do was retract it on Twitter. And that was probably, technically a mistake.”
At the time of Mortensen deleting the tweet, the original story was still live on ESPN.com.
The Wells report, released May 6, included all measurements of all footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Only one measurement (out of 22) came in at 10.50. Meanwhile, one officials’ recordings measured three of the four tested Colts balls at under the allowable PSI limit. Mortensen said Monday that when he reported the story, he did not even know the rules for PSI in footballs.
“Quite frankly, I didn’t even know what the PSI regulations were at that time,” Mortensen said. “But when I heard 11 footballs were underinflated, then I got on the phone and talked to three different people.”
Scott Zolak and Mike Flynn discussed Mortensen deleting his tweet on Tuesday’s show: