The embattled Entertainment Software Association has apparently decided it’s taken enough crap from news site GamePolitics, launching an unprovoked attack questioning the site’s credibility and accusing it of anti-ESA bias.
In a statement sent to Joystiq, ESA Senior Director of Communications Dan Hewitt wrote, “If the ESA posted a blog and called it a news site, journalists would rightfully balk and it wouldn’t pass a smell test. Remarkably, GamePolitics doesn’t face the same scrutiny even though it’s funded by the ECA (Entertainment Consumers Association, owner of GamePolitics) and tainted with anti-ESA vitriol. At the end of the day, calling GamePolitics a news site is as laughable as saying there’s a Cuban free press.” Hewitt went on to call GamePolitics “a membership recruitment tool” for the ECA.
In response, GamePolitics editor Dennis McCauley claimed ECA President Hal Halpin had insisted on maintaining the site’s editorial independence since acquiring it in October 2006. “I suspect that, given its current difficulties retaining member companies, the ESA is uncomfortable with the level of scrutiny directed at it by some news outlets,” McCauley said. “Ultimately, an organization like the ESA is judged by its performance, and, right now, it’s fair to call that performance into question. When a politician is keynoting E3, that’s worth questioning. When the politician has made divisive comments, like those attributed to Gov. Perry, that’s really worth questioning.”
The ECA responded independently, saying it was “shocked” by the ESA’s comments, which it described as “unprofessional to say the least… especially given the broad support that the ECA and our consumer members have shown for the ESA. We stand behind our publications and their editors and appreciate their talent and dedication.”
The ESA has come under heavy fire in recent weeks, beginning with the departure of Activision and Vivendi, which announced in early May that they would not be renewing their membership in the organization. LucasArts and id Software soon followed suit, announcing their own departures later in the month, leading to questions about the association’s viability and the “leadership” of current President Michael Gallagher. Since then, concerns about the ESA have been raised in other areas, including a glacially slow start to the group’s political action committee and bungling of the E3 trade show, with investigations often led by GamePolitics. The site was also vocal with questions about the selection of Texas Governor Rick Perry as the keynote speaker at the 2008 E3, a matter that was brought to the fore again yesterday following comments made by Perry in support of controversial evangelical minister John Hagee.