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Keller @ Large: TMZ's Irresponsible Reporting Of Darius Fleming Rescue

BOSTON (CBS) - As Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, "with freedom comes responsibility."

That goes for individuals, and for institutions – like the media. But with the rise of the internet and the constant, instantaneous news cycle, irresponsibility is a growth industry.

The latest example – TMZ, the tabloid website that prides itself on breaking gossipy stories about celebrities.

At 12:45 Wednesday afternoon they posted a story claiming that the Foxboro Police were having trouble confirming the story told by Patriots linebacker Darius Fleming about how he pulled a woman to safety from her car last week after it was involved in a crash on Route 1 near the stadium.

The story quoted an unidentified "law enforcement source" saying Fleming's story was "starting to look like Manti Te'o," the Notre Dame player caught up in a hoax involving a non-existent girlfriend.

But within hours, Walpole police and at least one eyewitness confirmed Fleming's story.

That didn't bother TMZ – as of Thursday morning their debunked story was still online.

So here's Fleming, sitting there with 22 stitches in his leg after risking his life to help a stranger, and his reward in part will be the belief among undiscriminating consumers of the garbage that passes for news online that he made up the whole thing.

Fleming tweeted: "People are quick to try to bring you down…so sad."

I agree.

As Mrs. Roosevelt said about the responsibility that comes with freedom: "For the person who is unwilling to grow up… this is a frightening prospect."

Listen to Jon's commentary:


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