Somebody break the Ravens PR machine. Please.

It was bad enough when they live-tweeted running back Ray Rice’s “press conference,” at which they didn’t allow questions. Bad enough when they allowed Janay Palmer, Rice’s then-fiancee, now-wife, who Rice allegedly knocked unconscious in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino in February, to apologize for being allegedly knocked unconscious in said elevator. Bad enough when they allowed head coach John Harbaugh to say he agreed the NFL’s flimsy two-game suspension of Rice for the incident, because of the message it would send to children.

Now, just days after the NFL incited a firestorm with its softball for Rice, the team’s official web site has posted to its home page a story that just may trump them all: the fact that fans gave Rice a standing ovation upon his return to training camp on Tuesday.

That’s their front page news. Really.

It’s beyond offensive. Protecting one of your own, trying to help him restore his image and coddling the bottom line are understandable. But there are lines, and timing. Celebrating the return of an alleged woman beater — an offense Rice has never denied and his lawyer has hinted at, “hypothetically,” — as triumphant is at best, reprehensible, at worst, filthy.

The Baltimore Ravens web site is not a news organization. Though even if they were, this would hardly qualify as news. There are also plenty of instances where real, big boy news organizations filter stories for fear of the unintended consequences of running them. For instance, reporting suicides is considered faux pas in journalism because of concerns that doing so might inspire people contemplating taking their lives to actually go through with it. This, despite the fact that there are more than twice as many suicides in the U.S. every year than there are homicides, which lead basically every local news broadcast ever. Given what this ticker-tape parade of a fluff piece might do to victims of domestic violence, if not women in general, you’d think the Ravens would know better. They apparently do not.

I repeat: The Baltimore Ravens web site is not a news organization. It is a collection of spinmeisters who aggregate content designed to frame conversations and ultimately make fans buy stuff and watch games.

This is the message they want out on Tuesday, that the city of Baltimore is apparently ready to turn the page and support its golden boy.

That’s deplorable, like the Ravens have been at every turn in this story.

So, somebody break the Ravens PR machine. Please.

Because it clearly doesn’t have an off-switch, and what it does when it’s on has gone on long enough.


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