TSN’s embarrassing publication of a Twitter joke alleging an adulterous relationship between Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul and actress Elisha Cuthbert, the wife of teammate Dion Phaneuf, may end up costing the network and the fan that tweeted it.
During TSN’s TradeCentre deadline coverage on Monday, a running scroll at the bottom of the screen published tweets sent to the #TradeCentre hashtag. One of the tweets from Anthony Adragna, a Leafs fan, made the allegation.
The players and Cuthbert have retained Gall Legge Grant & Munroe LLP, which released the following statement on Tuesday:
"On behalf of our clients Dion Phaneuf, his wife Elisha Cuthbert and Joffrey Lupul, we have sent a letter to TSN demanding that TSN issue a formal apology and pay a significant amount of damages to each of our clients for broadcasting a false and defamatory tweet during their trade deadline show yesterday. We are sending a similar letter to the author of the tweet, Mr. Anthony Adragna.
"It is bad enough that there are people who spend their time using social media to publish such false and malicious stories, but it is made much worse when a reputable media outlet like TSN gives broad circulation and credibility to these false stories by republishing them as TSN did.
"If TSN and Mr. Adragna do not immediately comply with the demands set out in our letters, we have instructions from our clients to immediately commence a lawsuit against them.
"Our clients will not be discussing this matter with the media.”
After a screen grab of the tweet went viral, Lupul called TSN “a poor man’s TMZ” and called the situation “embarrassing.” Adragna tweeted that the line was a “joke” and later said “my words and actions are my fault I've admitted that many times. Those words actually getting on air is out of my control."
TSN apologized during the show via social media:
"Earlier today, an inappropriate and disrespectful tweet was erroneously aired. As soon as it was flagged, we immediately removed it. We’ve reached out to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and all those impacted to extend our sincerest apologies for our error. It should have never, ever gone to air."
TSN said it's going to read this other apology on the air on SportsCentre and during TSN’s broadcast of the Toronto Maple Leafs @ Florida Panthers game:
"Yesterday when TSN was reporting on the NHL trade deadline it displayed a scrolling ticker of tweets from the public. In spite of TSN's protocols to prevent unfounded and inappropriate tweets from making it to air, a false, and inappropriate tweet was allowed to run. There was no basis for the false allegation made in this tweet. TSN unreservedly apologizes to Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf and Elisha Cuthbert and regrets any embarrassment this unfortunate incident has caused to them."
1. Canada has fairly rigid libel laws. TSN was completely irresponsible in allowing that on the air. This will not end well.
2. That said, Lupul and Phaneuf are essentially threatening to sue the co-owners of their team. Awkwarrrd.
3. Please recall the landmark case ‘Burke v. Poonerman,’ which was filed in a B.C. court.
4. I really hope this means the end of automated tweets appearing in hockey coverage and a return to curated tweets read by cheeky Americans wearing diarrhea pants.
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