Whoa. This story is pretty amazing. In fact, I have doubts that it’s all true. Deadspin reports that Jen Chang, former Sports Illustrated writer and Liverpool FC director of communications, recently tracked down a fake twitter account who hit the jackpot on a few transfer rumors (don’t we all?). Jen invited the guy to a meal, they shot the shit, and it seemed obvious: Jen’s hand was to butter up the twitter-star and try to get him on LFC’s side. Not.
Here are the facts as alleged: Chang supposedly spent some serious money to track down the twitter guy’s real name, address, job, and info on his family. Chang then allegedly pulled a page from the New Jersey trash-disposal union and offered an “amicable solution.” Mr. Twitter, aka Duncan Jenkins, must reveal he has no “mole” inside Liverpool. Or else. That’s right, Chang threatened to reveal Jenkins’ identity, the fact that his Borini revelation/tweet cost the club 300,000 pounds, and be fed to the Scousers’ wolves. Apparently, Liverpool was mad they had a twitter follower who tweeted transfer rumors about the club. And got a few right. And suspected a mole.
Here’s why I’m more suspicious than Deadspin. First, I recall tweeting with and at Chang during his ESPN and even CNNSI days. He was on the level and possessed a good sense of humor. We obviously only know the superficial facade of our media journalist quasi-celebrities, but Chang’s media journalist quasi-celebrity superficial facade avoided the trolling that pollutes the blogosphere. Also, it seems ridiculous that Roma would raise a transfer by 300,000 pounds over a supporter tweet, regardless of the popularity of that tweet. And the sensibility of the Italian club involved. Then again, Chang could have made that fact up to try and scare Jenkins. But why didn’t LFC just release on its a statement that Mr. Jenkins was a lucky guesser, not an informant?
Ultimately, I’m torn. On the one hand, when you become a prominent club’s director of communications, your job is to tell the story, not become the story. On the other hand, when your club’s season highlight is a decades overdue released Hillsborough report, maybe throwing some mud and generating some over-the-top headlines is a welcome distraction. Liverpool FC has certainly gotten some serious ink over this international break. Much more than, say, Arsenal or Manchester United. I don’t even know who their directors of communications are. For all I know, they just issue press releases and subcontract the back alley shimmying.
On a professional level, Chang’s alleged tactics raise some very serious “what the fuck” questions. For example, when you vaguely threaten a person with thousands of followers on twitter, maybe, just maybe, that person has the means to reveal your vague threats. Surely that thought formed. Or should have. Another example. When you threaten to out the identity of a person for tweeting transfer rumors, maybe that person may out you for threatening to out him or her. Fire with fire, so to say. As happened here.
Regardless, I feel for Chang. He made the jump to the lucrative media communications ship, and has found himself up the creek with no paddle. I’d like to think that somewhere, somehow, there’s a really well crafted hard-boiled detective novel involving a private eye, a fiery red headed dame, a Scouser sitting at his keyboard, broken knee caps, a statute, and Jen Chang.
NOTE: Jen hasn’t tweeted a word since this story broke.
IMAGE CREDIT: Daily Mail