Monday afternoon, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti answered the media’s questions about the ESPN Outside The Lines story that detailed exactly how the Ray Rice scandal unfolded. Two investigative reporters, Don Van Natta and Kevin Van Valkenburg, wrote that the Ravens head of security, Darren Sanders, got a detailed description of what happened inside the elevator between Rice and his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, and that the Ravens did their best to make sure that tape was never made public.
Bisciotti disputed all of that. He even went as far as to say that the majority of sources in ESPN’s report had come from people paid to get Rice’s suspension overturned. Van Natta, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, reacted that comment (and many more) in an interview with Bob Ley.
Not true. Unfortunately Mr. Bisciotti doesn't know the identity of most of our sources. They're anonymous sources, it's the nature of this kind of work that we do in investigative reporting. We talked to more than 20 sources. We have team sources, people inside the building, the Ravens building, talked to us, confirmed much of what was in our account. We talked to league sources. We talked to union sources. People that were in the loop, in the timeline that we laid out from February to September. And so unfortunately, it's an assumption that he's making about where this is coming from. I understand why he's making that assumption. We talked to some of Ray Rice's friends on the record in the story. He's making assumptions. We talked to Ray Rice's legal team and others, but it's unfortunately just not true and is an oversimplification of the kind of work that we put into this story.
Van Natta went on to say that an “excellent source” confirmed to him that Sanders got a briefing on what was on the inside the elevator video before it was released to the public.
Here’s Sanders’ statement:
Darren Sanders (Director of Security): “I did not receive an account of what happened in the elevator “within hours” of the incident. Within a couple of days, I asked the casino and the Atlantic City Police Department for a copy of any videotape of the incident. They said they could not release a copy of the videotape to me. Some days later—I believe it was on February 25—I spoke to an Atlantic City police official again, asking again whether I could get a copy of the tape or, if not, whether I could come to his New Jersey office and view it. He said I could not, but he did offer to view the tape and describe what he saw. (As I understand it, he was describing a raw video, not the “cleaned up,” “smoothed . . . out” version that appeared on TMZ.) He said that Ray and Janay both appeared to be intoxicated, and that they were involved in a heated argument that began outside the elevator and continued inside. As he described it, Janay appeared to initiate the altercation, but they both spit at and struck each other, resulting in Janay falling and hitting her head against the wall railing. The officer could not tell from the video whether Ray slapped or punched her, but Ray told me very clearly that he did not punch her. It was not clear from the officer’s account whether it was being intoxicated, being hit, or hitting her head against the railing that caused Janay’s apparent unconsciousness.”
Van Natta and a team of six reporters won a Pulitzer in 1999 for his national work on a series of stories about Ameriacn corporations that sold satellite technology with military value to China. He was again awarded a Pulitzer in 2002 for his work with a nine person team on Al Qaeda after the attacks on September 11.