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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales Executive

£20 - £30k DOE + OTE + BENEFITS: Guru Careers: A Business Development Manager ...

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen