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The Only Thing For Certain

February 8, 2012

Is that almost nothing is.

I was planning on writing a longer post today, but real life stuff kind of got in the way of writing. Not that this isn’t real life, but sometimes, I actually have set foot outside and do stuff. This was one of those days. Still, I’ve set myself a goal of posting something each day this month and I don’t plan on cracking this early into the process. So…

I’ve been reading a lot today about the chances of the Full Tilt Poker/Groupe Bernard Tapie deal actually going through. And, after much consideration of all the information that’s currently in the public record, I’m convinced of this: no one has a fucking clue.

Some reports say GBT is raring to go and plans on reopening a rebranded FTP as early as March. With just about three weeks until March 1, this seems highly unlikely. Other reports say the deal is going forward, and a reborn FTP will be online sometime this summer. Again, that seems ambitious, but possible.

On the other hand, there are also reports circulating around the Internet that the deal is in trouble and that GBT is looking for a way out. As proof, these reports cite GBT’s recent move to throw several high-profile pros under the bus for loans they supposedly took from FTP, but have so far failed to pay back. These outstanding debts could total as much as $15 to $20 million, depending on which sources you believe. Either way, the outstanding monies could be enough to scuttle a potential deal, according to sources.

And that’s the thing with all of these stories. There seem to be lots of sources leaking all sorts of information, but no one appears to want to go on the record.

As someone who’s worked in professional news rooms, I understand the importance of confidential sources. They can provide valuable information that may either lead to the discovery of facts not already on the record or, alternatively, serve to confirm information that a reporter doesn’t feel is rock solid. The problem with the FTP/GBT stories floating around, is that all of the information is coming from confidential sources, which means there’s no way to judge which, if any, of the alleged facts are true, sort of true, or just wishful thinking. Without anyone willing to put their name to a statement of fact – or even to a highly educated opinion, there’s no yardstick we can use to measure the validity of the other information floating around the Internet.

And while I’m focusing on the FTP/GBT story in particular in this post, don’t think that this is the only case – or even the only industry – in which the use of unnamed sources has gotten out of control. With the advent of the Internet and the 24-hour cable news cycle, the simple fact is that we’ve created a media machine that needs to be constantly fed. This need for fresh materials, coupled with constant deadline pressures, means that reporters and editors no longer have the time to investigate stories as thoroughly as they used to. And fact checking? It’s becoming a lost art, with media outlets figuring they can print or publish whatever they want, and then issue a retraction or apology after the fact if they turned out to be wrong.

So, who’s right and who’s wrong when it comes to the FTP/GBT deal? I don’t know, but I figure we’ll all find out when something actually happens.

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