Multiple sideline reporters have reacted to the admission from former sideline reporter, and current Fox Sports and Amazon Prime host, Charissa Thompson that she would, at times, make up content for her in-game reports.
Said Thompson on the Pardon My Take podcast, via Brandon Contes of AwfulAnnouncing.com: “I’ve said this before. I haven’t been fired [for] saying it, but 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.’ . . . Because first of all, 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 and do a better job of getting off the field.’ They’re not gonna correct me on that. So I’m like, it’s fine, I’ll just make up the report.”
Others who currently do the job think it is not fine. As of this posting, at least four prominent sideline reporters have weighed in on Twitter/X.
Said ESPN’s Molly McGrath: “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.”
Added Tracy Wolfson of CBS: “This is absolutely not ok, not the norm and upsetting on so many levels. I take my job very seriously, I hold myself accountable for all I say, I build trust with coaches and never make something up. I know my fellow reporters do the same.”
NBC’s Kathryn Tappen called it “deplorable.”
“I hold myself to the highest standard in everything I do,” Tappen said on Twitter/X. “I KNOW my hard working colleagues do the same. We earn respect the hard way. To those commenting on the irrelevant role of sideline reporters — beat it! WE ARE JOURNALISTS. THESE actions are not normal.”
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Thompson’s colleague at Fox Sports, Laura Okmin, spoke out against the admission.
“THE privilege of a sideline role is being the 1 person in the entire world who has the opportunity to ask coaches what’s happening in that moment,” Okmin posted. “I can’t express the amount of time it takes to build that trust. Devastated w/the texts I’m getting asking if this is ok. No. Never.”
Okmin then shared some advice for young reporters.
“There’s coaches who don’t give anything — even apologize early in [the week] for it,” she said. “You gather info in those conversations & take [with] you – ‘he was looking for this, hoped he didn’t see that.’ My point being YOU PREPARE for these instances.”
In a telephone conversation with PFT, Okmin explained that sideline reporters have grown accustomed to periodic challenges to their relevance and value. She said that, in this case, the disappointment was enhanced by the fact that it “came from within.” In her efforts to mentor young reporters, she’s concerned that this example will cause them to believe that this is an appropriate way to make it in the business.
Okmin said that she has not yet spoken to Thompson about the situation, but that she expects to at some point.
Fox referred PFT to Amazon for comment on the situation. After a specific question was asked about a Fox colleague criticizing Thompson publicly, Fox declined comment.
Amazon declined comment.
Earlier in the day, however, sports business reporter Daniel Kaplan posted that he asked Amazon if it would be addressing the situation on tonight’s pregame show for Bengals-Ravens on Amazon Prime. “She was telling a story from 15 years ago,” Amazon told Kaplan.
Kaplan later deleted the post, without comment.
It remains to be seen whether Thompson addresses the situation tonight on Amazon, or elsewhere.