Fox Sports host Charissa Thompson apologises after making up quotes for NFL sideline reports

The Fox Sports host admitted on a podcast she used to make up sideline reports when coaches would not give her anything to work with

Amelia Neath
Friday 17 November 2023 17:09 GMT
Former NFL Sideline Reporter Charissa Thompson Says She Used to Make Up Reports

Fox Sports and Amazon Prime host Charissa Thompson has come under fire after she admitted to making up some quotes when she worked as a sideline journalist at NFL games.

Ms Thompson, 41, appeared on the sports podcast “Pardon My Take” on Wednesday, when she admitted she would occasionally make up what coaches had told her, which has gained her serious backlash from many sports journalists on social media.

As a sideline journalist, Ms Thompson would have been stationed on or near the field to get interviews with coaches and players in NFL games.

“I’ve said this before, so I haven’t been fired for saying it, so I’ll say it again … I would make up the report sometimes because A) the coach wouldn’t come out at halftime, or it was too late, and I didn’t want to screw up the report, so I was like, ‘I’m just gonna make this up,” Ms Thompson revealed.

She claimed that a lot of behind-the-scenes work went into a sideline report that may only be played for 15-20 seconds, noting that was why she was no longer a sideline reporter.

However, after the podcast aired, Ms Thompson took to her Instagram on Friday to apologise for what she confessed.

“Working in media, I understand how important words are and I chose the wrong words to describe the situation. I’m sorry. I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sports broadcaster.”

She went on to explain that if the coach was not around for an interview, she would use information that she learned to create her report. “For example, if a team was 0 for 7 on 3rd down, that would clearly be an area they needed to improve on in the second half. In these instances, I never attributed anything I said to a player or a coach.”

She finished her statement to that she had “nothing but respect” for sideline reporters and the work that they put in behind the scenes.

Ms Thompson, who worked in this role for Fox Sports between 2007 and 2010, tried to justify her actions by saying that the coaches didn’t care because even when they did speak, they usually gave generic responses anyway.

“No coach is gonna get mad if I say, ‘Hey, we need to stop hurting ourselves, we need to be better on third down, we need to stop turning the ball over,’” the sports reporter continued. “They’re not gonna correct me on that, so I’m like, ‘It’s fine. I’ll just make up the report.’”

After the clip went viral on social media, other sports journalists were quick to point out how damaging fabrication can be.

Andrew Marchand, the sports correspondent for The New York Post, said in a tweet that if a report is embellished, other sideline reporters who did their job correctly look bad as a result.

ESPN broadcaster Molly McGrath also weighed into the situation, warning young journalists that this practice is not common.

Ms Thompson appeared on the Pardon My Take podcast where she made the polarising revelation

“Young reporters: This is not normal or ethical. Coaches and players trust us with sensitive information, and if they know that you’re dishonest and don’t take your role seriously, you’ve lost all trust and credibility,” she wrote on X.

Yankees reporter Chris Kirschner felt that Ms Thompson’s confession could be damaging to the press’ reputation itself, so much so that he suggested her retirement in the field.

“A good portion of the public doesn’t trust the media as is. I cannot believe she would proudly admit this,” he wrote.

“This causes significant harm to the people who actually take the job seriously. It’s entirely unethical and worthy of never working in the field again.”

Criticism also came for Ms Thompson from female journalists who said they were bewildered at her actions, who said she should know women have to fight to be taken seriously in the industry.

Veteran sports journalist Lindsay Jones wrote, “I thought it was a near-universal experience for women in sports media is the feeling of needing to work twice as hard to be taken seriously; that you can’t bear to make a mistake. So the cavalier way Charissa Thompson cavalierly admitted to making up quotes is unforgivable.”

The Independent has contacted Ms Thompson via her website for comment.

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