Las Vegas Sun

December 15, 2017

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A lesson in information dissemination, with a little Twitter and a lot of Agassi

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Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

Andre Agassi discusses his memoir Open: An Autobiography in the Encore Theater at the Wynn on Nov. 9, 2009.

Those who use meth are commonly known as tweakers, but it was a tweeter who broke the news of Andre Agassi’s crystal meth use. The result was that Sports Illustrated actually scooped … itself.

Here’s how it happened, as detailed in a story from Monday in The New York Times: Time Inc. had purchased exclusive rights to publish select excerpts of “Open: An Autobiography,” Agassi’s new autobiography that was released on Monday. The sections chronicled Agassi’s drug use in 1997 and were to appear in the new issues of People and Sports Illustrated just before the book’s release. But a Sports Illustrated writer sent out a tweet -- a Twitter update -- the day before the magazines were to publish, reporting that Agassi had admitted drug use in his new book.

The post leaked on Oct. 27, a day before both magazines were sent out. The information was not out there for too long, just 25 minutes, before the post was deleted. But a magazine in Australia picked up the information and began publishing parts of the book before the established embargo the book’s publisher, Knopf Doubleday, had arranged with Time Inc.

This rapid change of events affected the interviews conducted by Katie Couric, whose segments with Agassi aired Sunday night on “60 Minutes.” Over a period of weeks, Couric had been in Las Vegas working on this project but did not ask Agassi specifically about his use of crystal meth during her original sessions with him and wife Steffi Graf. So on Tuesday of last week, she returned to question him once more -- about the meth use and also about response from such pubic figures as Martina Navratilova. Agassi’s eyes welled during his answers, which were actually some of the better moments in the interview.

But who gets credit for the scoop on this? Probably Sports Illustrated, which did tweet the news first. As Knopf Executive Director of Publicity Paul Bogaards told the Times: “It’s hard to say the embargo was broken. Can Sports Illustrated scoop Sports Illustrated? That’s a question I can’t answer. It was supposed to be in the magazine the next day.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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