Now, we go live to a breaking sex scandal...

Following the David Letterman revelations, rumours are now flying about a rampant 'culture of depravity' at the cable channel ESPN

If, like many on the far side of the Atlantic, you were upset by revelations about David Letterman's extramarital office romances, it's probably best to keep your TV firmly tuned away from the sports channels.

In the week that a former Letterman employee claimed in Vanity Fair that the king of late-night chat presides over a "hostile" and "sexist" work environment, another sex scandal has hit American broadcasting.

It involves ESPN, the world's largest sports network, which is based in the small city of Bristol, Connecticut. At its centre are dozens of lickerish TV executives, scores of fruity allegations and one very prurient journalist. The hack, if that is the right word, is A J Daulerio, the editor of Deadspin.com, an influential US sports blog owned by the Gawker media empire. The executives all work at ESPN, in roles of varying seniority. And their private lives have been dragged into the public domain for one straightforward reason: revenge.

Mr Daulerio claims that ESPN's PRs lied to him to prevent Deadspin from exposing embarrassing details of a relationship between its married 46-year-old baseball analyst Steve Phillips and a 22-year-old production assistant called Brooke Hundley.

News of that affair eventually broke on the front page of the New York Post the week before last. The subsequent scandal included enough juicy bells and whistles to fill the local supermarket tabloids for several days. Last Sunday, the mounting scandal persuaded ESPN to fire Mr Phillips.

Angered at missing out on a valuable "scoop" because of what he saw as dishonesty by the broadcaster's PR team, Mr Daulerio duly decided to get even. He told readers: "It's probably about time to just unload the in-box of all the sordid rumours we've received over the years about various ESPN employees." Deadspin gleefully proceeded, over a period of several days, to post rumours of sexual liaisons, harassment and extramarital affairs involving a string of ESPN executives, some extremely senior, under headlines linking the Disney-owned network to such phrases as "horndoggery" and "sexual depravity."

The project sparked outrage and hilarity, together with a terse statement from ESPN. "Deadspin's self-admitted rumour-mongering is despicable behaviour by any standard and shows callous disregard for its impact on people's lives," the company said. "It is not worthy of response and those responsible should be called to account."

Mr Daulerio, however, says his rumour-mongering is likely to continue. In an interview with The Independent, he claimed to have heard of "around 20 more" illicit affairs at the company, which he is tempted to publish. "ESPN has had a problem for some time," he said. "It's an open secret."

He blames ESPN's infidelity "problem" on its business model, which sees production teams routinely posted to faraway sporting locations, where they stay together in hotels, as well as the culture at the company HQ. "The Bristol campus is very small. It's the only thing in town. Most of the people who work there have nothing else to do. There's a constantly rotating cast of new interns and production assistants. This is something that's rampant."

The wider question is where such public sex scandals leave an American broadcaster. In a nation where public sexuality remains curiously taboo, a firm perceived as a hotbed of "depravity" could seem out of kilter with public sentiment. TV employs disproportionate numbers of interns – the people most often at the centre of such scandals. "It's their first real experience of a professional setting, so they don't know how to handle themselves," says Lauren Berger, who runs the website internqueen.com. "If an older executive shows an interest in you, it can be difficult to react."

The industry's profile also ensures that its sex scandals get disproportionate coverage. "Actually, this is a dirty little secret in most industries," says Scott Ventrella, an executive coach and author of The Power of Positive Thinking in Business. "Infidelity is far more common than you think."

America may disprove of infidelity, but that hasn't stopped viewers from tuning into ESPN. Letterman's ratings, meanwhile, are the highest they've ever been. Ethical or otherwise, and regardless of the headlines, an old truth still prevails: sex will always sell.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gaming Brand

40,000- 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Senior Analyst – Global Sports Gam...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up