The Media Column: Expect reports about David Ortiz shooting to only get more conflicting

Alex Reimer
June 12, 2019 - 12:25 pm

David Ortiz was shot, and we know some of the most specific details about the gruesome episode. We have seen footage of the shooting itself and video of an angry mob beating up one of the suspects afterwards. Despite these indelible images, however, we still have no idea about what actually led to the horrific incident Sunday night. It is seemingly impossible to separate reality from rumor. 

In other words, this story illustrates everything that's right and wrong with our rapid-fire media climate. 

Dominican outlets immediately reported on the Ortiz shooting, streamlining the information to Boston right before the third period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Dominican journalist Dionisio Soldevila originally reported Ortiz was involved in a robbery attempt, which went viral. Then the Dominican police dispelled the report through a spokesperson. 

Shortly thereafter, outlets released the surveillance video on social media, and it was apparent Ortiz was not part of a burglary at all. The tape, which shows a man running behind Ortiz at a crowded bar and shooting him at close range in the lower back, provided clarity on the incident itself. 

And that’s where our concrete understanding of the case ends. While thousands of articles have been published, there is no consistent narrative or understanding of the supposed facts. The truth depends on which outlet one is reading.

Early Monday afternoon, the Daily Mail published an expectedly salacious story about the alleged motivation behind the shooting, citing three anonymous law enforcement sources: “David 'Big Papi' Ortiz was shot in a Dominican Republic bar by 'two cops hired by a drug lord who believed the baseball hero was having an affair with his wife’,” the headlines reads.

The article itself doesn’t contain any additional information beyond the wild headline, though it does feature tons of embedded videos and photos that are destined to freeze your laptop. A quote from Ortiz’s spokesman, Leo Lopez, is lifted from a Spanish-speaking newspaper. Per the Daily Mail’s translation, Lopez denied a woman was involved, but said he thinks the shooting was an act of hired killers. 

The Washington Post is running the same quote from Lopez in its stories.

Two years ago, the Daily Mail reported breathlessly on Aaron Hernandez’s suicide, exclaiming the ex-Patriots tight end was involved in a gay relationship with one of the prison’s other inmates. The suggestive undertones of the reports reeked of homophobia and were in poor taste, but Hernandez was a convicted murderer, so few felt the need to protect his privacy in death. 

The situation is much different with Ortiz, of course. His wife, Tiffany, released a statement Tuesday thanking everybody for their support, and asking for privacy while her husband recovered. While everybody surely wants to respect her wishes, there is still a story to report. And it could lead to some uncomfortable areas.

The New York Post has picked up on some aspects of the Daily Mail’s story, saying a rogue police officer “may” have been involved. “They’re definitely looking at a police officer in the shooting,’’ a law enforcement source said.

Officially, the Dominican police acknowledge Ortiz might have been targeted in a hit job. "We're not ruling out any scenario. What we can rule out is that this wasn't a robbery,” Dominican police spokesman Frank Felix Duran told CBS News.

The Dominican police also deny the rumor one of their officers was part of the shooting. The Boston Globe, which has at least three full-time reporters on the ground in Santo Domingo, published the police’s denial. This is another example of where the Globe’s coverage will be watched carefully, given John Henry’s ownership of the paper. The Globe didn’t lend any favors to Robert Kraft when reporting on his prostitution case, running multiple op-eds predicated on law enforcement’s admittedly false accusation that Kraft’s day spa of choice was involved in a widespread international human-trafficking ring.

We will see how much prudence they apply to reporting on Ortiz, if additional untoward reports emanate from the Dominican. 

The Dominican police are confirming it’s possible this was a targeted shooting. We also know two suspects have been captured, including the alleged gunman. The attorney for the man who was beaten up Sunday outside the bar, Eddy Feliz Garcia, insists his client is an innocent motorcycle driver who was driving a customer to the scene. 

"He didn't know what they were going to do. He's a fan of David’s," Deivi Solano said, via NBC News.

According to the official record, the motive for this possible targeted shooting remains a mystery, though the term “targeted shooting” implies there was a motive for the attack. 

But there is a tawdry theory, and it’s even been published in the verifiable New York Post, Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid. He would never attach his name to any disinformation or conspiracies, right?

Truth is in the eye of the beholder here. 


Perspective should be added to Ortiz reporting: Good news stories put news events in context, which is why every article about the Ortiz shooting should contain the Dominican Republic’s rate of gun deaths. The island’s rate of gun deaths is the same as it is here, per data from 2016. So save all of those crude jokes about the Dominican being this violence-ravaged wasteland –– unless you also want to make the same quips about the situation in this country. 

In addition to starving off blatant xenophobia, this statistic also lends greater credence to the notion Ortiz was targeted. You are not putting your life into your hands if you go to an upscale bar in Santo Domingo. 

Banner captain fascination is so weird: I care about lots of silly things, as evidenced by my five-day long temper tantrum about Jermaine Wiggins getting the privilege of sitting next to Mike Mutnansky in the wee hours of the morning this week.

But I have never cared about the Bruins’ banner captain, and hopefully the alleged grown adults who tweet about it incessantly don’t actually care, either. The topic is tired, boring and juvenile. The silly conversation infantilizes whomever talks about it.

Playoff hockey is an incredible product. The sport doesn’t need its reporters and media types to act like delirious cheerleaders.

Let the summer of Kyrie begin: The Summer of Kyrie Irving is starting nearly two weeks before the solstice. The mercurial point guard opted out of his contract Wednesday, giving us at least 18 days of incessant free agent speculation before the process even starts.

By the time July 1 rolls around, Irving’s lackluster showing against the Bucks will be nothing but a distant memory. The incessant reports about reports from NBA Insiders will whitewash the whole affair. 

No PR agency could ever be that effective.