Charissa Thompson of Fox Sports and “Thursday Night Football” made the stunning confession this week that she made up quotes from coaches when she was a sideline reporter. (Watch the video below.)
The revelation drew fire from prominent peers such as CBS Sports’ Tracy Wolfson and ESPN/ABC’s Molly McGrath. It also drew a retraction of sorts from Thompson.
The controversy began with Thompson’s remarks on the “Pardon My Take” podcast.
“I’ve said this before, so I haven’t been fired for saying it, but I’ll say it again. I would make up the report sometimes,” Thompson said. “Because, A, the coach wouldn’t come out at halftime, or it was too late and … I didn’t want to screw up the report, so I was like, ‘I’m just going to make this up.’”
Thompson blithely recalled the cliches she would pass off as real quotes.
“No coach is going to get mad if I say, ‘Hey, we need to stop hurting ourselves,’ ‘We need to be better on third down.’ … They’re not not gonna correct me on that, so I’m like, ‘fine, I’ll just make up the report.’”
But on Friday, Thompson insisted on Instagram that she “chose the wrong words to describe the situation.”
“I’m sorry. I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sportscaster,” she wrote.
Thompson said when a coach was unavailable, she gleaned information from what she observed from the game and offered it to viewers. “In these instances I never attributed anything I said to a player or coach,” she wrote.
Her comments on the podcast had already generated outrage.
Kevin Z. Smith, a board member of the Society of Professional Journalists, was shocked by Thompson’s words. “This is just appallingly bad journalism to engage in, and to brag about it and defend it as harmless is beyond the pale,” he told The Washington Post.
ESPN broadcaster McGrath warned “young reporters” on X, formerly Twitter: “This is not normal or ethical.”
CBS’s Wolfson said on X, “This is absolutely not ok, not the norm and upsetting on so many levels.”
Thompson had previously discussed her on-air invention of coach quotes in a 2022 podcast with Fox Sports colleague Erin Andrews, giving a specific example involving a Detroit Lions coach. Andrews admitted to doing the same once so she wouldn’t throw the coach “under the bus.”
No longer a sideline reporter, Thompson currently hosts “FOX NFL Kickoff,” the pregame show for Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football” and FS1’s “NFL Films Presents.”
Fox Sports did not immediately return a HuffPost request for comment.
Fast-forward to 1:27:18 for Thompson’s comment.