With accusations against Patriots, John Tomase confirms reality is upside down

Published: 1/30/2018 6:43:22 PM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Without any direct knowledge or evidence, WEEI reporter and radio personality John Tomase identified five specific members of the New England Patriots as PED users in a radio broadcast last Thursday, then suffered no repercussions for his irresponsible claim, thereby confirming that reality is upside down.
Tomase’s race to prove that reality is a broken, twisted husk of logic that makes absolutely no sense and is just here to punish us for ever caring about anything began 10 years ago when he reported in the Boston Herald that the Patriots had illegally videotaped a Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI. The Herald published his story the day before Super Bowl XLII — in which New England was pursuing a perfect season — which may have been the all-time peak of Patriots media exposure even before the story came out, so everyone read it of course.
Just three months later, Tomase confessed in print that his story was incorrect. He also confessed that he rushed the story to publication without being able to confirm its veracity because he didn’t want to risk the chance that someone else might beat him to defaming the Patriots. He said he could not find credible sources to confirm his information. He did not have the alleged tape. He did not see the alleged tape. In fact, it turned out the source who told him that a tape existed didn’t actually tell him that. Tomase said he just made a “devastating leap of logic,” when the source told him a camera was present as the Rams started practicing. He just assumed the camera was rolling, because all good journalists build blockbuster stories around assumed knowledge.
Given that Tomase’s confession went to print in May when no one cares about football, it’s understandable why the misinformation from his original report became permanent. In fact, members of the 2001 Rams still complain about the Patriots taping their walkthrough, and for some reason the 2004 Eagles think New England did the same thing in Super Bowl XXXIX. Their reality is irreversibly tainted by the false story they wanted to believe.
Now, if our reality made a lick of sense, Tomase probably would have met some reasonable consequence for his actions. But it seems at this point (if not earlier) the universe began to detach from its hinges. Because some might say that when a reporter’s gross negligence unleashes a malicious genie who can never be rebottled, that reporter could rightfully be terminated. Others would say a brief, cursory suspension just to show that a newspaper cares about its reputation (or about anything at all) would have been the minimum appropriate response. After all, some years later that same paper suspended a reporter for tweeting out accurate information that had not first been vetted by an editor
Because our reality is a dysfunctional, dystopian mess, Tomase was more or less promoted.
He got moved to the more prominent and prestigious Red Sox beat and was eventually hired by his former Herald coworker Rob Bradford at WEEI, where just last week he finally confirmed that everything is upside down, backwards and FUBAR when he demonstrated that he’d acquired exactly zero wisdom from his infamous and irresponsible carelessness with facts.
Tomase sat there explaining to former professional football player Christian Fauria that “100 percent” of NFL players use performance enhancing drugs. Fauria cited extensive experiential knowledge to explain that this claim was inaccurate and not realistic. Tomase rejected Fauria’s experiential knowledge on the basis that these men play professional football and cited his own experience of having been in the Patriots locker room to conclude that five specific members of the team are on PEDs.
Tomase then acknowledged that he hasn’t been in the Patriots locker room for “eight years,” because he’s “not welcome” there. He did not explain why he might not be welcome there, though we can probably assume it had something to do with his careless false report from 10 years ago. It’s worth noting that this reporter was unable to confirm whether Tomase is in fact not welcome in New England’s locker room or if that’s just a thing he says. Like how he says he doesn’t watch football, but then writes a detailed analysis of the Jaguars defense, which, it’s worth noting, another writer found to be quite similar to an analysis he’d made on Twitter prior to the release of Tomase’s analysis
How did WEEI react to Tomase’s reckless claim. Well, Glenn Ordway called him out for being an irresponsible journalist, but only vaguely referenced his botched Spygate story. Then the station became embroiled in a controversy where another personality, Alex Reimer, called Tom Brady’s 5-year-old daughter a dumb name, and then the station suspended that guy. Some might see Reimer’s offense as worse, and it’s hard to blame those people for thinking that.
But it’s even harder not see Tomase’s initial inversion of reality as the act that enabled Reimer and everyone like him. He proved there is no performance-enhancing drug as potent as a self-inflicted career controversy. That the relationship between values and success is inversely proportional. That you can cast aspersions on Tom Brady for using illegal substances and allude to unspecified “cheating” by his team, because that’s just what happens in football. That if you call his daughter a foul name, it might keep you from experiencing Super Bowl LII in person, but everything is going to be fine, because the national shows are talking about YOU this morning. You’ve made it.
Until it’s just one last idealistic numbskull wondering if reality was ever right-side up. Did any of it ever matter? Is truth a mandatory component of news? Or are we just shoveling content at readers and listeners and letting them sort out whatever truth they most enjoy with no regard for consequence or accountability? And the numbskull shouts into an empty, impossible void hoping that some alternate reality exists on the other end and that all of us will be there some day. But he knows it doesn’t. And we won’t.

Dave Brown is freelance correspondent for the Concord Monitor. You can follow him on Twitter @ThatDaveBrown.

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