The following is a news analysis
It can fairly be said that high profile, false racial accusations made by racial minorities against whites are shockingly common.
So common that one cannot be blamed for treating each new claim with an initial, healthy dose of skepticism.
And yet, too many in the media continue to swallow the fish hook, line, and sinker. They become so vested in the narrative that they fail at the basic job of attributing the allegations or doing basic fact-checking and research.
The most recent case is that of Duke University female volleyball player Rachel Richardson. She alleged that Brigham Young University fans repeatedly used racial slurs against her during a Brigham Young University-Duke volleyball match on Aug. 26, but that she had bravely played on.
Jason Duaine Hahn of People stated that "Rachel Richardson, a 19-year old student at Duke University, was called the 'N-word' by a Brigham Young University fan as she competed in a volleyball match."
Mike Freeman, a "race and inequality editor" at USA Today declared, though he could not not possibly known, that Richardson was telling the truth. He likened the skepticism to "QAnon. Or mass voter fraud. It's another conspiracy theory."
But like many "conspiracy theories," this one also apparently turned out to be true.
Brigham Young University says it "reached out to more than 50 individuals who attended the event" as part of the investigation, and reviewed all available video and audio recordings, and found no evidence to corroborate Richardson's claims.
No word on whether Richardson will face discipline. As of this writing, the mentioned publications who falsely reported her claims as if they were corroborated have not issued public apologies to Brigham Young or its student body and fan base.
Meantime, South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley reportedly cancelled her team's basketball series with Brigham Young based on Richardson's allegations. After the results of the investigation were made public, Staley reportedly says she stands by her decision, anyway.
Such racial allegations, which are themselves racist in nature, are sadly common.
Actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to jail time for faking a racist hate crime against himself. He falsely claimed that Trump supporters cornered him on the street in the middle of the night, attacked him, put a noose around his neck, and left him to walk home with the rope hanging from his body. Investigators found none of that was true, and that Smollett had paid two black acquaintances to fake the attack.
The media holds a great deal of blame for reporting initial instances and claims without using normal journalistic practices and standards that would have protected against misreporting. They became, in essence, a party to the racist accusations against white people.
Lessons should have been taken from numerous cases of high-profile wrongly-accused, whether it's Richard Jewell falsely blamed (and later cleared) in the Atlanta Olympic bombings, Officer Darren Wilson falsely blamed (and later cleared by the Obama Justice Dept.) in the shooting of Michael Brown (the Justice Dept. concluded the "Hands Up Don't Shoot" claims were fabricated), Wen Ho Lee accused (but never charged and then prevailing in libel lawsuits against media) in the Chinese theft of our most sensitive nuclear secrets, Kyle Rittenhouse accused (but later cleared) of wrongful shootings of his attackers during a riot, the Covington Catholic kids falsely portrayed as being aggressive against a Native American protester, the University of Virginia frat brothers falsely accused of sexual abuse in a Rolling Stone article, Steven Hatfill falsely accused by the FBI in anthrax attacks, Trump and campaign associate Carter Page as supposed Russian spies, well-- the list goes on. You can think of others.
If only the media were to follow normal standards and practices when these cases arise (reporting fairly, attributing claims, reporting both sides of a story), then we wouldn't ultimately shoulder so much of the blame for the out-of-control false narratives that derive from the news reports.
When it came to Smollett's accusations, some media outlets responsibly reported and properly attributed allegations. But others did not. Instead, some unskeptically furthered the false and racist narrative that Smollett, who is black, was attacked by white, Trump-supporting racists who put a noose around Smollett's neck, shouted racial slurs, told him it's "MAGA" (Make America Great Again) country, and poured bleach on him. The New York Times deserves special mention here for adding a biased non sequitur in its early reporting that treated skepticism of Smollett's story as if it were unfounded, and fit in a dig at President Trump's son.
But the lack of progress in the investigation has fueled speculation about whether the report was exaggerated. The president?s son Donald Trump Jr., who is known to disseminate conspiracy theories on his Twitter feed, retweeted an article this week about Smollett declining to turn over his cellphone to the police.New York Times reporting on the Smollett claims
Here are but a few of the other cases whereby Trump opponents staged fake attacks or made false, racist claims. The initial accusations were widely reported; the follow ups were not so widely reported.
- A week before Trump was elected, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi was torched and the words "Vote Trump" found painted on the outside. The mayor condemned the incident as a hate crime and stated it was "an attack on the black church and the black community." However, police later arrested a black church member for the arson. They say the man staged the fire to look like an attack by Trump supporters. Even today, some of the corrected news reports retain headlines seeming to blame Trump.
- The day after Trump was elected, there was an incident at Elon University in North Carolina that made national news. Hispanic students found a "hateful note" written on a classroom whiteboard reading, "Bye Bye Latinos." After the story made news, it was learned that the message was written by "a Latino student who was upset about the results of the election."
- Also the day after Trump was elected, a gay man, reportedly a filmmaker, claimed that homophobic Trump supporters smashed his face with a bottle outside a bar in Santa Monica, Calif. A bloody photo was posted on Twitter, and he was said to have been treated at a local hospital. Police investigated the media reports. They said no complaint was ever filed, there was no evidence of a crime, and a check of local hospitals showed no victim in such an incident.
- The week after Trump's election, a Muslim student at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, claimed Trump supporters pulled off her head covering, and assaulted and robbed her. She later admitted fabricatingthe story.
- A month after Trump's election, a Muslim-American woman claimed Trump supporters tried to steal her headwear and harassed her on the New York City subway. She ultimately was arrested after confessing she made up the whole story.
- On June 28, 2018, after a newsroom shooting, a newspaper reporter falsely tweeted that the shooter "dropped his [Trump Make America Great Again] hat on newsroom floor before opening fire."