Perpetrators and purveyors of fake news have banded together to create a perfect storm of bullying against NCAA college athletes attending Brigham Young University. Students at the school, dragged through the mud based on a spurious accusation of racism, have been physically attacked and had anti-Mormon slurs hurled at them thanks to irresponsible reporting by the activist media.
At an Oregon-BYU football game in Eugene, fans of the Oregon Ducks decided to believe the media hype and hysteria. Dressed in black rather than school colors, the spectators were captured on video chanting “F— the Mormons.” And now it has gone viral on social media – all because some news outlets ran with a rumor rather than verifying their facts.
Governor Spencer Cox of Utah condemned the Ducks fans’ abusive mantra. “Religious bigotry alive and celebrated in Oregon,” he wrote on Twitter. It must be bad when even CNN’s John Avlon was quick to criticize the media’s “rush to judgment” against BYU students, who stood accused of targeting a competitor athlete with a racially motivated insult. “Healthy skepticism is always a virtue, but this doesn’t read like a coverup. Instead, it feels like there was a rush to judgment because of a well-intentioned impulse to believe the Duke volleyball player’s accusations,” said Avlon.
Rumor Mills and Hidden Agendas
The drama began at a BYU vs Duke volleyball game at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. Duke player Rachel Richardson was readying to serve in front of a boisterous BYU student section when she believed she heard a racial slur hurled in her direction. Liberty Nation covered the accusation and the following story to the end of the inquiry:
“It took three long weeks – under scrutiny by the sensationalist media – to finish the investigation. Still, after looking at every possible film clip and interviewing students and players of both teams, investigators declared there was no evidence of wrongdoing, where all sides walked away satisfied that no slur had ever occurred.”
Most of the hysterical reporting by the activist media can be traced to one source: Lesa Pamplin, Richardson’s godmother. Of course, she could have been supporting her godchild through a traumatic event – but some think she simply promoted a made-up story to get her name in the news cycle. The godmother talked to every outlet that called and spent a good amount of time on social media, claiming Richardson “was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.” She added, “5700 folks attended that game. The taunts got louder and louder when the police came to the bench.” But then again, Pamplin was campaigning as a Tarrant County, TX, criminal court judge candidate. Journalism 101: Vet your sources for hidden motives and agendas. Also, stick with what you can prove.
Sports commentators denounced BYU for a perceived indifferent and racist fan base; some criticized the school for its passive fans and slow response during the match. The incident has damaged the university and especially its athletic department. Other NCAA schools began canceling matchups with BYU in protest of a rumor made fact by a hungry media.
Anti-Mormon Slurs Nipped Nearly in the Bud
And that brings us back to the debacle in Eugene and the student attacks on religion in the progressive northwest coast state. The home of the Ducks was quick to repent:
“The University of Oregon sincerely apologizes for an offensive and disgraceful chant coming from the student section during yesterday’s game against Brigham Young University. These types of actions go against everything the university stands for, and it goes against the spirit of competition. We can and will do better as a campus community that has no place for hate, bias, or bigotry.”
The lack of responsible reporting – from broadcasters being too quick to render judgment based on feelings to outlets seeking only sources that will fit into the chosen narrative – has taken a swipe at the time-honored traditions found in the stands of collegiate sports. Most student players and fans are respectful enough to avoid the hot buttons politicians and so-called journalists are eager to use in the battle for power. But the media has proven unable to resist tossing kerosene on an already raging cultural dumpster fire.