Alright, kids … here’s another example of why we need to have all of the facts before we make any sort of judgment on anything.

We all heard of the horrible news about a noose being hung in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the only black driver on the NASCAR circuit. It was found on June 21 by someone in the garage area of the Talledega Superspeedway in Alabama and Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s president, was the one who apparently told Wallace about it in tears.

Bubba Wallace was the apparent victim of a racially-motivated attack on June 21 when a noose was reported to have been found in his garage. It turned out to be nothing more than a garage-door rope but the damage had been done thanks to the jumping of conclusions.
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Now, the mere mention of a noose and a black person is frightening enough. It’s despicable considering the history behind it and if it was true that someone hung a noose in his garage because of who he was, the person or persons responsible needed to be named, shamed and drop-kicked in the teeth. Not figuratively but literally.

There was an investigation performed by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice and their findings were that there was a noose, but it had been in place since October 2019, long before Wallace was even assigned the particular garage where his #43 car was. 

In fact, it was first discovered in November 2019. We know this because there were photos posted online from the very same garage showing the apparent noose hanging from the garage door back then. An updated photo showed that the loop had been cut off of the rope after it was discovered.

The result? What occurred had nothing to with racism at all, said investigators.

I’m not going to say this was a hoax, as has been suggested by many people commenting online. How do we know this was a hoax? Wallace didn’t take a photo and scream to the sky about how someone intentionally put a noose in his garage. This isn’t the same as what happened in the Jussie Smollett deal. 

The blame in this case has to do with the media and the latest example of a rush to judgment.

Too many times in recent memory, we’ve seen major news outlets, almost always American, grab a hold of something that goes viral and it becomes the cause du jour. Am I saying it shouldn’t be reported on? Of course not. If it’s newsworthy, it should be reported on with the emphasis on “reported”.

I often use the term ‘infotainment’ to describe what’s happening with what we’re seeing in major news circles: there’s a story, something gets written about it and the fun begins. We get the panel discussion, we get soundbites and diatribes from people who are contributors (or talking heads) from both sides who comment on what they see, not what they know, leading to the endless stream of opinions.

Lost in all of that is the truth because as fast as these panels are struck, new information comes out which, more often than not, kills whatever narrative one side was trying to convey. 

Rinse and repeat.

Fox News, MSNBC and CNN are the absolute worst when it comes to this kind of crap because a vast majority of what you hear on those networks is opinion journalism. Here are some examples:

Fox News: “A gang of thugs ripped down a statue in downtown (insert city here) today …”

CNN: “A statue steeped in the legacy of hatred was felled by demonstrators …”

MSNBC: “What you’re seeing isn’t anger but peaceful protesters exercising their rights …”

Again, rinse and repeat.

What makes it worse is that when the original “story” evolves and kills the original, you see the major outlets throw their hands up and claim that they were just doing their job. Don’t blame us, they’ll say – we’re just the messengers. Stop blaming us. We’re your friends.

Give it a rest.

This is where local journalism comes in so handy at a time like this. Newspapers, such as this one and local radio stations are the last best resources of good journalism we have left. You will get the story based on facts and there’s usually a place for opinions, such as letters to the editor and this page you’re reading right now. 

You will never get opinion in a properly-constructed story. If we tell you it’s opinion, we will tell you it’s opinion.

If there’s one thing Donald Trump will leave us with, it’s the term ‘fake news’. Your definition of it will vary but it’s become the term du jour and you use it. 

Don’t tell me you don’t because you do. It’s hit our industry hard and it’s causing people to question what they see and hear. I’m all for that because we need to be kept in check. If you don’t like what’s being reported, tell us about it. Write a letter to the editor. 

I’ve always said I can’t do my job without the people and I want to hear from you, good or bad.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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