Real Salt Lake media blacklist could set standard, echo throughout MLS

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Media tends to defend media, what with the freedom of the press being a pretty cool thing, but let’s try to lay out the facts of this standard setting Major League Soccer story as best as possible.

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— Real Salt Lake removed the credentials of Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson for Saturday’s match versus the New England Revolution.

— The Tribune decided to remove all of its media from the match, and covered the match on television.

— RSL contends that Monson’s relationship with RSL’s former owner and a job working with a close relative of said former owner prohibits him from being objective.

— MLS says it is “monitoring” the case, and takes media access very seriously.

Awful Announcing does a great job summing up the allegations and both parties responses here.

Monson had just written a scathing critique of Real Salt Lake ownership Dell Loy Hansen, with the headline, “Is Real Salt Lake Being Run Into The Ground?

Here’s a taste:

People inside the organization say Hansen is tearing his franchise to shreds because, as a real estate mogul and a relative novice to the sports-ownership world, he wants to do it his way. And his way is the only way.

That’s a big reason former coach Jason Kreis left, the reason former general manager Garth Lagerwey left, and, now, the reason team president Bill Manning left. Because the man with the deep pockets wants to run the club the way he wants to run it, not the way it should be run, not the way it’s best run. His ego is behind the wheel.

And it isn’t the first time.

The first instinct in any of these situations is that the team is trying to “control the message”, something RSL brings up by name and dismisses in its response.

There’s something that gives us reason to wait and see here. Writers are allowed to hang out with and work alongside whoever they like, and you can do that without bias. I’m not familiar with Monson’s work at all.

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We’d love to know past interactions between Hansen, RSL execs, the Tribune and especially Monson. Have there been at-length talks about the direction of the club? Has Monson been skeptical from Day One, or has he built his opinion over time?

Either way, we’ll always err on the side of media coverage. And how MLS reacts could set a dangerous standard for the manner in which the league is covered (other outlets could decide to limit coverage).

Watch this one closely.