Remember When News Outlets Engaged in Fact-Checking?

by Kerry Dougherty

Dang it. The BYU women’s volleyball story had everything the corporate media salivates over:

A conservative Christian school and an alleged racial slur against an African-American female athlete.

Pity that like so many other stories that feed the narrative that America is just a nanosecond away from Jim Crow and that conservative Christians pose the worst sort of domestic threat, this story didn’t stand up to rigorous fact-checking.

Sadly, fact-checking has gone the way of typewriters and copy editors at most news outlets. Young, woke, inexperienced reporters sniff around social media looking for stories that fit their agenda and their bosses print or broadcast whatever they produce, often based on a single source.

The left-wing media saw an irate Tweet from the godmother of the alleged volleyball victim and went to town, shaming Brigham Young University and its racist student section, who reportedly heckled an African American standout on Duke University’s women’s volleyball team during a match against BYU in Provo on August 26.

Here’s a sampling of what passes for journalism in America right now:

“Duke Volleyball and BYU: Racial Slurs Hurled At Player,” USA Today.

“Racial Slur During College Volleyball Game Leads To Fan Suspension,” The New York Times.

“Black Duke Volleyball Player Subjected To Racial Slurs During Match Against BYU,” CNN.

Administrators at the university were embarrassed and upset. They immediately suspended a fan who was fingered as the kid who might have uttered the slur that apparently wasn’t uttered. That fan has since been reinstated.

Even the athlete who lodged the allegations praised BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe for coming to her after the alleged incident and expressing concern.

“Let me be clear on where BYU stands on this issue,” Holmoe said at the time. “Racism is disgusting and unacceptable.”

Next, the university did the work that journalists were too lazy to do: they investigated the incident by interviewing players from both teams and fans who were there and by listening to enhanced audio recordings of the event.

When they concluded their investigation, the school issued a statement. It appears this incident, which received national attention, can’t be confirmed.

As part of our commitment to take any claims of racism seriously, BYU has completed its investigation into the allegation that racial heckling and slurs took place at the Duke vs. BYU women’s volleyball match on August 26.

We reviewed all available video and audio recordings, including security footage and raw footage from all camera angles taken by BYUtv of the match, with broadcasting audio removed (to ensure that the noise from the stands could be heard more clearly)…

From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event. As we stated earlier, we would not tolerate any conduct that would make a student-athlete feel unsafe. That is the reason for our immediate response and our thorough investigation.

That wasn’t good enough for some.

South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley announced that she was cancelling a home-and-home series with BYU that was set to begin this November when the Cougars were scheduled to visit the Gamecocks in Columbia.

“The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home,” Staley said. “And I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Journalists, do your damn jobs. People, programs and reputations get hurt when you don’t.

This column has been republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.