Journalist A.J. Daulerio and the website Deadspin.com recently broke the salacious story about Brett Favre and New York Jets employee, Jenn Sterger. The story about the long time football star was headline news. Part of what made the story a scandal was the lack of confirmation from deadspin.com that pictures and texts used in print were actually from Brett Favre.
In this scandal it was hard to tell who the bad guy really was. Even if all the allegations were true, A.J. Daulerio and his lack of journalistic integrity could outshine Favre for being most unprofessional. A.J. Daulerio even told CNN that there were “two scum-bags in this story,” referring to himself and Farve, and that he was okay with that characterization.
What makes Daulerio a bad guy is that Sterger had made it clear that she had no intention of going public with the story. Daulerio tried applying heavy pressure on her to expose Farve and she refused. Despite his source not wanting to be exposed, Daulerio went public anyway, ignoring all professional standards on how to treat sources.
There are some important parallels between journalistic integrity and the practice of law. Integrity is defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character and honesty. Daulerio threw away all his creditability just to get national media attention about a particular story.
It may be tempting for lawyers, at times, to make controversial statements about a case or the law just to get attention, but the attention may not be helpful to the client’s cause or to the lawyer’s reputation. That’s not to say that lawyers cannot or should not speak to the press. At times, they may not have a choice; for instance if inaccurate information about a case is printed. Nevertheless, careers should be built on credibility and integrity; and as somebody once said, you only get one reputation.