There is a reason that national news outlets are held in such low esteem by the American public.
What has been commonplace in television news has now migrated into sports broadcasting as well.
Now, ESPN is suddenly quiet after aggressively pursuing a claim of supposed racial injustice.
A claim that a racial slur directed at a black college athlete was all the buzz in the national media.
That is, until that claim was scrutinized more closely.
Duke University volleyball player Rachel Richardson claimed that a fan from Brigham Young University yelled the n-word at her “throughout the entirety of the match” between the two schools on August 26.
This led to the immediate removal and permanent ban of a Utah Valley University student who was suspected of being a BYU fan.
BYU issued apologies to Richardson and Duke University.
But that was before the claim was looked at more closely.
No one could verify the claim and it was actually looked upon with skepticism and eventually discredited.
BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer told the Salt Lake Tribune that he and his department scoured surveillance camera footage looking for evidence of the alleged racist fan from the game but they came up empty.
Besendorfer said, “When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him.”
He also said that no one from the student section of the crowd has backed up the n-word claim.
BYU Associate Athletic Director Jon McBride said, “Various BYU Athletics employees have been reviewing video from BYUtv and other cameras in the facility that the volleyball team has access to for film review. The person who was banned was the person identified by Duke as using racial slurs. However, we have been unable to find any evidence of that person using slurs in the match.”
Richardson appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and was interviewed about her claims.
Correspondent Janai Norman spoke with the 19-year-old sophomore and said she was “really impressed” with “how she is handling all of this.”
George Stephanopoulos agreed, saying she had, “a lot of grace.”
But Good Morning America has made no mention of the incident since that broadcast.
ESPN, ever eager to drum up racial division, offered more uncritical coverage of the claim.
Host Stephen A. Smith said, “By allowing this to happen and not addressing expeditiously, not addressing it with a level of quickness and speed that you should’ve addresses this with.”
He later claimed, “This is a dereliction of duty” and opined that the university was scared of the “backlash” it would have received for taking immediate action.
ESPN host and Duke alum Jay Williams wore a Blue Devils sweatshirt on-air to show support and said, “The way she handled the BYU situation at 19-years-old, I just want to say you keep doing your thing. Hold your head high. And I appreciate her talking ‘bout the perpetrator instead of BYU overall, but I just appreciate her. I wanted to say that.”
Naturally, ESPN had numerous articles about what transpired on its website except for the recent revelations.
An ESPN spokesman said, “The investigation by BYU is continuing, and we are still doing our reporting. The network is waiting for the results of the investigation.”
This wait-and-see approach would have been useful before the network went all-in assuming the worst.
This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened and brings to mind the Bubba Wallace “noose” hoax that turned out to be nothing more than a pull rope attached to a garage door.
Racism is shameful and of course ought to be condemned, but ESPN and the other cable networks are only enabling that worldview by not doing due diligence every time an accusation is made.
After a while, the folks just stop believing what is being peddled.
And that’s just one reason their viewership declines ever more with each passing year.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.