NEW YORK - FILE: Assistant coach Bernie Fine of the Syracuse Orange looks on from the sidelines during their game against the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2009 in New York City. According to reports on November 27, 2011, Syracuse University has fired assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine over allegations of child molestation. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Back when he initially stepped into our lives, Zach Tomaselli created an email list. On it were various journalists from the Syracuse newspapers and TV stations as well as national reporters and bloggers that had somehow not made Zach's "enemy list," which seemed to include just about everyone else in the world.
Anytime Zach wanted to stir the pot and make some waves, he would blast his latest rantings (and I assure you, they were almost always rantings) to this email list in the hopes that someone would bite.
I was fortunate enough to not make the list, but I was usually forwarded the contents of each by Nation of Orange's Michael McAllister. Mike and I would usually laugh about the email and then discuss the merits of reporting on it.
These emails were always rambling missives about how Onondaga County DA Fitzpatrick was out to get him or the Syracuse Police were working with Bernie Fine or "quotes" from his grandmother that prove Zach was in Pittsburgh or Connecticut or wherever it is he was supposed to be when he was molested by Fine. They always "proved" his point and they always contradicted everything he had written in the previous one. I kinda wish I saved them.
When Tomaselli retracted his accusations about Bernie Fine and implicated Bobby Davis is a scheme to use him, we all should have known he'd retract that retract a few days later. That's what he does based on what the voices in his head tell him to do (And he's already retracted a retraction once before).
Sure enough, Tomaselli sent out the email this morning, the day he is set to enter prison for the next three and a half years. In theory, it's his swan song and it is a beaut. The email is over 1,600 words and includes sentences like "I was sick of the media following me around and reporting negative stuff about my life" and "I began this case as a honest guy." It also includes a story about how the middle school soccer team he coached a few years back showed up at his house en masse the other day and told him to take back his retraction because of how he led them to victory or something like that. It's a piece of work.
So Mike forwarded the email to me and simply added, "Would you report this? My god what a trainwreck." I wrote him back and said he shouldn't touch it unless a major outlet decided to run with it first. My assumption was that no news organization would take this email and make a story out of it because everyone knows this guy is a lunatic at this point and that nothing he says can be taken seriously. As far as I was concerned, everyone covering this story made a silent pact to let Tomaselli go to jail and forget all about him, if that's even possible.
No one had anything to gain by publishing Tomaselli's retraction to his retraction. Actually, I take that back. I suppose ESPN had something to gain by publishing it. Tomaselli's retraction and claim about Bobby Davis make a serious dent in the credibility of ESPN's initial report and their reporter, Mark Schwarz. Even if Tomaselli was making the initial retraction up (I mean, how can you even tell at this point?), it would help their cause if they could somehow squash it by casting doubt back onto Tomaselli and giving Davis and Schwarz a little bit of credibility back.
Funny sidenote...the only ESPN reporter on that email list is Mark Schwarz, which means he ran with the story or at least started the process on it. Up until now, Schwarz has passed on just about every initial Tomaselli update or deferred it to a Syracuse outlet. But this one he decides to run with...