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In Fairness to Ben Volin, it's Only Been 4 Years Since a Patriots Journo Got Punked into Reporting a Bullshit Story by a Fake DM

When The Boston Globe's Ben Volin reported that Mac Jones was getting too high on his success and needed to be "humbled":

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My first reaction was to explain that this is how sports media is done in this market:

I'll say first that I have no problems - and I cannot stress this enough - with Mac Jones attitude, his mental approach, his work ethic, none of it. If you could measure immeasurables, his would be off the charts. I also don't think he needs to be "humbled." What Volin is saying here is right out of the pamphlet in the waiting room when you go to interview for a Boston media job, "So You Want to be a New England Sports Journo?" They love to see a new, fresh face come along, so they can blast pepper spray into it. They're doing it with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Now it's Jones' turn. It's part of the gig.

Giphy Images.

But now that we know Volin was catfished by a Stoolie, now is the perfect time to mention that other time-honored tradition in this market: Reporters getting duped into falling for fake stories by fans who were just out to fuck with them for their own amusement. 

Let us return to the Before Times. The Long, Long Ago that was 2018. That time, it was Ron Borges, then of The Globe's rival newspaper, The Boston Herald. Who, not coincidentally, also had a history of being an anti-Patriots jihadist even longer than Volin's. The quarterback being discussed was Tom Brady. The fake account was posing as the agent for both Garoppolo and Tom Brady. The DMer was a listener to my and Kirk Minihane's old employer:

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What do these two stories have in common, apart from:

They both involved quarterbacks,

They were both fake,

They were both written by Patriots reporters from Boston newspapers,

Both of whom were being punked by Patriots fans,

They could both have been cleared up with maybe five minutes of actual professional journalism, tops?

The answer is, both stories cast the Patriots in a terrible light. That is the real common denominator here. Media people always love to tell you all they're interested in is the story. That they don't have an agenda. They don't root for or against anybody. All they want is to report to the truth in the fairest way possible. And for some, that is true. But not all. 

Like I said when Borges fell for the story from Faux Don Yee, if he got a message from an inside source telling him Bill Belichick ran into a raging fire at an animal shelter and rescued all the puppies and kittens, he would've have checked it out before going to print. The reason he believed the one about Brady holding out on his contract, is because he wanted to believe it. It was the perfect example of confirmation bias at work. And we can see how that worked out for him:

In case you were wondering, that "suspension" is still ongoing. 

But by no means am I suggesting Borges or Volin invented the art of running with a fake story from phony sources you didn't check out because it makes the Patriots look terrible. Nor did they perfect it. That honor goes to The Herald's John Tomase, who took the cheese on Belichick having a spy cam tape of the Rams Super Bowl walk through in 2001. Something he decided should be front page news the day before the Pats faced the Giants in the Super Bowl, trying to complete a 19-0 season. 

That bullshit story still gets repeated today like it's true. Despite Tomase's admission of wrongness and apology:

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His fate was only slightly better than Borges'. He was taken off the Patriots beat, but kept on to cover the Red Sox. Eventually ending up on WEEI, where we sometimes did shows together but I wasn't allowed to discuss the 10-ton Walkthrough Tape in the room:

How this will play out for Volin's employment status is anyone's guess. Though I suspect he'll be just fine. In fact, John Henry's newspaper resents the Patriots so much:

… he'll probably get a bonus or promoted to editor. 

All I can do is ask anyone interested in continuing to catfish these journos to have at it. Go nuts. It's exactly this kind of shoddy reporting that helped the rise of Barstool. Because none of us here hide our agendas behind some facade of being unbiased. We love the teams we love and hate the ones we hate and are honest with our readers and listeners about it. And we've got enough integrity to check something out before we make asses of ourselves putting our names on something that turns out to be nonsense. I guess that's too much to ask of some people.

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Who's being "humbled" now?