ESPN, Disney Come Under Fire for Anchors' Shoe Endorsement Deals

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Jim Romanesko calls on Bob Iger to stop the practice before a "shadow of doubt" is cast on EPSN and ABC News' "journalistic integrity."

ESPN and its parent company Disney have come under fire after it was revealed the three anchors of College Gameday all have endorsement deals to wear Nike shoes.

The news comes about a month after it became known ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews has an agreement to wear Reebok shoes.

Jim Romenesko's Poynter Institute column questions if Disney CEO Bob Iger will do anything about the deals.

"The Unethical ESPN Four are just part of a much bigger problem, one that now casts a shadow of doubt on all of the news operations of the Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN and also ABC News," he writes.

"What if Citibank paid the Wall Street Journal’s David Wessel? The Patton Boggs lobbying firm paid ABC’s Jake Tapper? Moody’s PBS Newshour’s Paul Solmon by Moody’s? Their unassailable work would no longer be trustworthy. Indeed, imagine that Richard Sandomir, the NYTimes sports reporter who broke this story, was being secretly paid by Fox Sports and that news broke right after his piece on the secret payments to ESPN reporters was published. Oh, the howls we could expect from Mr. Krulewitz, whose employer competes with Fox to air games."

"Of course, Iger can do nothing. He can look the other way. But if Iger does nothing his inaction will only arouse suspicions about every journalistic enterprise Disney is engaged in, leaving doubt as to who may be on the take, whose agenda is being advanced by greasing palms and which critical stories are fueled by under-the-table payments to on-air employees or maybe those unseen producers who direct much of what gets on the air."

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