According to the New York Times, while Deadspin was also readying there story, a debate raged within ESPN as to whether or not to go with the story. The reason they held onto it? Because the network was waiting to secure an interview with Te’o.
Now, the reasoning for this is up for some debate. ESPN claims the reason it sat on the story was because it wanted to make sure it was accurate, rather than risk printing something that was untrue.
“We were very close,” Vince Doria, ESPN’s chief for news, told the Times. “We wanted to be very careful.”
However, assuming that ESPN had the same information as Deadspin, that reasoning may be murky. Deadspin’s editor claimed that any news outlet that knew what they did should have had no ethical qualms going ahead with the story.
“Given the same amount of information that we had, I can’t think of a media outlet that wouldn’t run with that,” said Tommy Craggs, Deadspin’s editor.
Going a step further, Deadspin itself is implying pretty hard that ESPN sat on the story because it wanted to capitalize on it in the form of a TV show. The Times’ story seems to support this, noting the value of having subjects appear on camera.