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Houston Astros Fire Assistant General Manager After Uproar Over Comments To Reporters


Tomorrow night, the Houston Astros take on the Washington Nationals in game three of the World Series. The Astros are down two games to none, but their problems do not end there. They've just fired their assistant general manager days after he delivered a profane defense of Astros pitcher Roberto Osuna to a group of female reporters. NPR's David Folkenflik has been following this story. He joins us now.

Hey, David.


CHANG: So help us understand why this assistant GM, Brandon Taubman, is being fired today?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, Taubman not only offered a profane rant at these three female reporters, but he did so prompted by nothing. He was essentially yelling, I'm so glad to have gotten Osuna. We're glad to have - expletive deleted - gotten Osuna. And he was directing it at them. What was not initially clear was he's really directing it at one of the three reporters, and she's a woman who had tweeted a lot about domestic violence. She had a domestic violence awareness bracelet on her wrist, and she had tweeted about domestic violence after a couple of Osuna's appearances last year. That was a sore spot for the Astros, who picked up Osuna in exchange last year from the Toronto Blue Jays after he had been arrested by Canadian authorities for beating the mother of his child. And he was suspended 75 games, so that was a very sore spot. He was screaming about that player to a woman who had been trying to raise awareness about domestic violence.

CHANG: Yeah. But what I don't understand is this outburst happened days ago. Why are the Astros taking this step now? I mean, didn't they initially deny Apstein's entire account of the whole incident?

FOLKENFLIK: That's right. Not only did they deny it, they said that she and Sports Illustrated had fabricated the count. I spoke to eyewitnesses. Others have vouch for the fact it was accurate. They're just wrong, and they have not apologized for that very serious charge against a working journalist. They're doing it now because the pressure is intense. Major League Baseball has said it's investigating. And basically, all of sports journalism has rallied behind these reporters. There's been a lot of criticism also for the Astros for being insensitive to domestic violence not only in the outburst but now the decision to trade for Osuna after that accusation of domestic violence had come to light as well.

CHANG: That's NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik.

Thanks very much, David.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.