Things have gone from bad to worse for the Washington Redskins.
Earlier this week, The New York Times ran an investigative piece on the football team’s cheerleading squad. With testimony from five cheerleaders who spoke out on the promise of anonymity, the Times alleged that several members of the squad had been subjected to inappropriate and uncomfortable situations while on a work trip to Costa Rica in 2013.
According to the five women, the team traveled to the country five years ago for a calendar photo shoot. The ladies stayed at an adults-only resort for the duration of the trip and logged long hours practicing choreography and posing for photos. The trouble came when the Redskins invited select sponsors and suite-holders to accompany the women to the shoots, where photographers had them pose nude while covered in body paint even though no nudity would be featured in the calendar.
Later, the women who spoke to the NY Times alleged that a handful of cheerleaders were chosen to accompany the VIP guests, all of whom were men, to a nightclub where they were to serve as escorts. The women maintained that sex was not involved in the arrangement but the incident brought to light an ugly practice the team is rumored to have of “pimping out” their cheerleaders both on the field and off.
As concerning as the allegations are, the situation was made worse on Friday when the Today Show did a segment on the story that worked to deny the cheerleaders’ claims. Today hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie interviewed two guests, both former members of the squad, who were quick to refute claims that anything unprofessional happened on the trip or during their time with the team.
The paper’s PR team responded to the segment via Twitter, accusing the show of booking the author of the piece, Juliet Macur, before canceling the interview and instead inviting the two women on the show to defend the allegations.
During the on-air interview, Guthrie made sure to point out that the women who spoke with the NY Times weren’t there to tell their side of the story, clarifying that the two guests were there on behalf of the Redskins, who asked that they defend the team against the accusations being made.