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Host Charissa Thompson apologizes after saying she fabricated NFL sideline reports; faces mounting criticism

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Charissa Thompson, a Fox Sports and Amazon Prime Video “Thursday Night Football” host, has apologized after saying she used to make up reports when working as an NFL sideline reporter earlier in her career.

Speaking on the “Pardon My Take” podcast, which was released on Wednesday, Thompson admitted to fabricating reports. Sideline reporters relay information they have received from players and coaches throughout NFL games to provide additional color for broadcasts.

“I haven’t been fired for saying it, but I’ll say it again, I would make up the report sometimes because, A, the coach wouldn’t come out at half-time or it was too late and I was like, I didn’t want to screw up the report, so I was like, ‘I’m just gonna make this up,’” Thompson told the “Pardon My Take” podcast.

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“No coach is gonna get mad if I say, ‘Hey, we need to stop hurting ourselves, we need to be better on third down, we need to stop turning the ball over and do a better job of getting off the field,’” added Thompson, who started work as an NFL sideline reporter for Fox Sports during the late 2000s.

“Like, they’re not gonna correct me on that. I’m like, it’s fine, I’ll just make up the report.”

Thompson, who previously hosted an afternoon program on ESPN, is now host of Fox Sports’ Sunday “NFL Kickoff” and Amazon Prime Video’s “Thursday Night Football.”

She posted a statement on Instagram Friday, clarifying comments she made in the podcast.

When on a podcast this week, I said I would make up reports early in my career when I worked as a sideline reporter before I transitioned to my current host role,” she said.

“Working in the media I understand how important words are and I chose wrong words to describe the situation. I’m sorry. I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sports broadcaster.

“In the absence of a coach providing any information that could further my report I would use information that I learned and saw during the first half to create my report. For example if a team was 0 for 7 on 3rd down, that would clearly be an area they need to improve on in the second half. In these instances I never attributed anything said to a player or coach.

“I have nothing but respect for the sideline reporters and for the tireless work they put in behind the scenes and on the field. I am only appreciative and humbled to work alongside some of the best in the business and call them some of my best friends.”

Her comments on the podcast had drawn widespread criticism from other sports journalists, including from ESPN reporter Lisa Salters.

“Shocked. Disappointed. Disgusted. What we heard today called all sideline reporters into question,” Salters said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“My job is an honor, a privilege and a craft at which I have worked so hard Trust and credibility. They mean everything to a journalist.

“To violate either one - in any way - not only makes a mockery of the profession, but is a disservice to players, coaches and, most importantly, to fans.”

It was a sentiment shared by The Athletic reporter Chris Kirschner.

“A good portion of the public doesn’t trust the media as is,” Kirschner said on X.

“I cannot believe she would proudly admit this. This causes significant harm to the people who actually take the job seriously. It’s entirely unethical and worthy of never working in the field again.”

CNN has reached out to Fox Sports and Amazon for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

This isn’t the first time Thompson has admitted to making up a report. In her own “Calm Down” podcast in 2022, Thompson said she “made up a report” when working as a sideline reporter in 2008.

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