Ethics Corner

Article excerpt

CHAD SPEAKS OUT ...

Curtis in the midst of religion, journalism, and the field of dreams

Chad Curtis e-mailed me last month after I wrote in this space about his behavior with Jewish sportswriters, his aversion to skin magazines, and his tense relationship with his former New York Yankee teammates.

Curtis noted I had interviewed lots of people. But not him. A good point, this being an ethics corner. He wasn't blaming me for what I wrote. He said I was just reporting what people told me without checking it out with him.

Lots of readers weighed in, via e-mail and telephone, for and against him. Some said Curtis should keep his religion to himself. Others said Curtis was a moral beacon and that Jews shouldn't be so sensitive.

I told Curtis the purpose of the column was to show how reporters sometimes let their sources get away with saying offensive things because they do not want lose their access to them. In this case, some writers were offended by what Curtis said, but kept it to themselves. Thus, their readers were kept in the dark.

On the phone, we spoke for an hour and a half. Curtis is an oft-quoted source for journalists writing about religion and sports. He is just as likely to be interviewed by The Wall Street Journal as ESPN. He worried my column (E&P, July 10, p. 32) might give people the impression he did not respect Jews or their religion, although he admitted some of his views on Judaism might anger Jews who don't know him.

He said he had great concern and affection for Jews and offered this political point to prove it: "If I was running for president of the United States, my first choice for a running mate for vice president would be a Christian. But if I couldn't find one that I would be satisfied with, the next group of people that I would look toward would be the Jewish people because I feel a kinship with them more than I do with anybody else outside of Christianity." (Curtis offered this insight a month before U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., an orthodox Jew, was picked to run as the Democratic candidate for vice president.)

And then Curtis added, "That kind of remark doesn't come from somebody who has negative feelings toward Jewish people."

Curtis said reporters often misquote him, misunderstand him, take things out of context, or twist his thoughts, which was why last spring he began writing a column on baseball and religion for the Arlington Morning News, the hometown newspaper of his new team, the Texas Rangers. …