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Never Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story

By on April 23rd, 2013 in Football, News 16 Comments »

                     Gene Chizik met with the media Monday and called the ESPN/Selena Roberts
                     report “absurd.”

By now most well informed Auburn people are aware of the facts that have come out completely refuting the innuendos, half truths, and lies put out by Selena Roberts’ on her blog and sensationalized by ESPN on the airways.

But the rest of the world may not be so aware. There’s something about indelible ink. Once it has been written and published, for many people there has to be something to it.

After all they read it in a “published” account. To quote the famous American humorist of the 1930’s, Will Rogers, “All I know is what I read in the papers.” You see most people believe the published reports they read and (today) the broadcast they watch.

Mark Twain, another famous American author and humorist, once said that some people, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” And it is abundantly clear that is exactly what Selena Roberts and to a larger extent ESPN has done with the allegations leveled at Auburn University.

Since her list of unsubstantiated allegations were first published 20 days ago, all of the players quoted in her piece (except one who is serving time) have contradicted the quotes attributed to them.

In addition there have been a number of news outlets to call into question the veracity of the piece. Notwithstanding the sports network ESPN not being one of them. In fact if it were not for  ESPN promoting and sensationalizing Roberts blog post, the story would never have grown any legs.

Yesterday, Auburn AD, Jay Jacobs released the results of an internal investigation where the university worked in conjunction with the NCAA on investigating the academic fraud allegations.

The report contradicts and refutes Roberts’ charges. The most serious of which were grade fixing for football players. In an open letter Monday to fans, Jacobs gave a point by point rebuttal of Roberts’ charges. Later in the afternoon in a video released to the media he vociferously defended the school.

“I’m tired of it. I’m tired of these attacks on Auburn, and when people attack Auburn, I’m going to fight for Auburn as strongly as I possibly can.”

Then in the afternoon former Coach Gene Chizik gave a fiery  interview where he said the charges of paying football players was “absurd.” “When the NCAA left, they didn’t find anything that indicated anybody was paid or anybody was offered money,”

In what this r considers one of Chizik’s finest hours, the former coach went on to say,

” It’s really hard to operate day-by-day with what I consider to be the most scrutinized, and sometimes villainized, program in the country… If you don’t know how the NCAA works, they’re very thorough in their investigations. Let me make that clear: they’re very thorough in their investigations. You want me to back that up with fact? I’ll name ‘em: Miami, Ohio State, North Carolina. Most recently, Oregon. USC. So how could they come into Auburn and leave and find nothing, and that becomes a one-sentence statement after getting drug through the mud for 13 months? How is that right? It’s not right.” (You can see a transcript of the coach’s full remarks here.)

What Selena Roberts wrote was not right either. She didn’t …

…let the facts get in the way and promoted her agenda that Auburn had done something wrong.

ESPN didn’t let the facts get in the way, and continued to insist that their reporting based on innuendo’s, half truths, and (Selena Roberts) downright fabrication, is actually the truth.

All that Auburn has is the truth, based on the facts. While ESPN has something much more powerful … the writings of a disgraced ex reporter. Well, that and the megaphone of the world’s biggest Sports Cable TV network.

Let’s be clear; ESPN has done a lot for college athletics. The national exposure of college sports and the money that has flowed into conferences is unparallel. But woe be to the school or coach that the giant sports network has decided is somehow unworthy to be treated even handily

Another fact that ESPN has not highlighted in covering Auburn’s football is that the Tiger program has not been sanctioned by the NCAA in over 20 years. However, in that 20 year period 10 other SEC schools have been sanctioned. Yet it’s Auburn they have negatively portrayed the last three years.

Apparently once ESPN has committed so much of their time, money, and reputation to a story, and then discover that the facts dispute said story, (as in the Cam Newton case) they make the decision that their story and their reputation is more important than the truth.

Ms Roberts type of reporting is one akin to dirty politics. You know the type.  Commercials where you see a politician say whatever they want to make their opponent look bad.  And the real trick is to keep saying it till the average Joe accepts it as truth.

In the news world there is a name for that type of  technique. It’s called, “yellow journalism.” If you need some facts to back you up, you just fabricate them or better yet (if your ESPN) you get them from the blog of a former news paper woman who has a reputation of being fast and loose with the facts . If the truth comes out, ignore it or just use your bigger megaphone to drown out the facts. After all your “journalistic integrity” can’t be called into question.

The truth used to be a  precious commodity in this country. In today’s culture, truth has become a relative term. And sadly many of  today’s so called journalist refrain from using facts, because it gets in the way of what they have already decided is the truth.

Once the evidence is revealed that may call into question their opinionated story, they have to ignore it or throw more mud on the target, knowing some of it will stick or at least cover up the inconvenient facts.

In fairness, ESPN broadcasters should be up front about the facts that refute the charges leveled at Auburn and set the record straight. But don’t hold your breath on that one. ESPN has already decided to never let the facts get in the way of a good story.


  1. WoodrowAU95 says:

    Great article! Totally agree with your points. The time for Auburn to “turn the other cheek” seems to be ending. Although I’m not a fan of Jay Jacobs, his statements today were fantastic!

    Although I know it will never happen, I wish AU would not allow BSPN to televise it’s games this year. I realize that involves contracts and other red tape (loss of $$$ too). Wishful thinking as a way AU could thumb it’s nose at this monopoly called BSPN.

    I was thinking another reason the Roberts story died (beside lack of actual facts), is that it involved a TURD player. We know that he never took any money while unofficially visiting AU. If he had as Roberts stated, he would have been ineligible. Thus making the national championship (that team already on probation) void. Did anyone else notice how quiet it got in West Vance?

  2. Wow Woodrow…..that allegation escaped me. Have they done an internal investigation yet?

    Still love Chiz. He is a man of integrity. His time at Auburn will still be remembered every time the Champions are celebrated. And you can tell he still loves Auburn and the community.

  3. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……The part about repeating the lie vociferously certainly does work. Repetition is the key to learning. You see the results in other media and blogger pieces about Auburn. It’s the sentiment that where there’s so much smoke, there must be fire. Never mind that it’s Nancy Grace wanna-bees blowing the smoke…

  4. Way back in the early 70’s, maybe even sooner, I remember my father (AU Class of ’63), and my uncle (AU Class of ’59) complaining about the pathetically unabashed Alabama bias of The Birmingham News and The Birmingham Post Herald. For whatever reason that local bias has morphed into a much more insidious national smear campaign.

    ESPN was initially a godsend to college football and sports in general. The Entertainment and Sports Network provided sports fans more opportunities to watch sporting events than the big three network providers (ABC, CBS, and NBC) could, or would provide. ESPN has since grown into the biggest player in college football and the self anointed moral authority of all sports.

    The problem here is that ESPN lacks the moral or ethical backbone to support such a claim. They do however have the podium and therein lies the problem. Allowing air time to a muckraker like Paul Finebaum and providing legitimacy to an already proven liar like Selena Roberts proves that they do little to no fact checking and truly care about nothing but ratings. Some morale authority.

  5. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    Dayum! BOOM goes Aub Tigerman! Extremely well written and completely conveys what we have had to endure. And apparently it isn’t over yet. We still have to endure an E:60 episode about our synthetic marijuana epidemic… Geez!

  6. AUwaterboy AUwaterboy says:

    Wow ATM you really tell it like it is.

    The facts are not important to people who have an agenda. I used to get pissed off about ESPN’s bias for certain schools but this thing has gone beyond the normal bias. It’s like they have got to smear Auburn since there campaign against Cam was a failure. But as Jay said yesterday, ” They can poison our trees, poison the air waves and with a poison pen.

    Bring it on.

    We’ll just punch back harder.”

  7. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    In the hyper-sensitive, hyper PC world…..and hyper- hypocritical world we live in, what this is, is bullying…pure and simple. Auburn may not fit the classic mold of a victim, and none of us would accept that role, but as the parent of a special needs child, I know bullying when I see it. Bullying is about exerting power over those that are incapable of adequately defending themselves and Auburn is being victimized by those who have the ability to inflict harm upon them.

    The bullies in the media are doing so, out of spite, to embarrass and humiliate the Auburn family and most importantly stuff their coffers with profits at the expense of a target who can’t defend themselves because the attackers are a protected class. It is the ULTIMATE in cowardly, bullying behavior. ESPN is the most loathsome of the lot because they have the biggest megaphone and have the ability to shape opinion….either positively or negatively. They have chosen to be a bully.

    Auburn is defending themselves…finally….but like the awkward child having blows rained down upon him by the leader of a “clique”, he finds few to come to his defense because it is simply unpopular. Unfortunately Auburn has become the poster child for all the ills of Div I football because the liberal elite media doesn’t want to tarnish liberal icons Ohio State, Miami, USC and UNC. So southern whipping boy Auburn is foisted onto the cross to suffer for the sins of others. Unfortunately the mouth breathing mass of humanity that gets swept up in degrading reality shows, shock-sclock radio and sensationalistic negative political ads, gorge themselves on this stuff like a Grizzly on a salmon farm.

    While I would love to be able for the Auburn family to punch back harder, the punches will never be acknowleged and will certainly never be scored as a landed punch. Our responses will be pooh-poohed as the ravings of a guilty man protesting his innocence in the face of prison (kind of like Mike McNeal?) and used a segue to promote the bully’s next beating….kind of like ESPN pulled this morning to promote their E:60 Slanderganza on Auburns “wretched role in promoting synthetic marijuana…..SPICE- AGEDDON!!”

  8. WoodrowAU95 says:

    In the old days (when most of us were in grammar school/middle school) all it took was one solid, massive punch back and the bullying stopped. The bully slithered back to his hole and never crossed your path again. That was long ago in a simple world. If things were that simple now.

    I have a legal question (because I’m honestly not sure how it works). Could AU sue ESPN or Selena Roberts for slander? I’ve read somewhere that slander is a hard thing to prove in a legal sense. I know there is freedom of speech and such, but I was curious about this.

    So with that being asked, AU could say, “We’ve just discovered that when Ms. Roberts was a student at AU, she cheated on a English final.” AU doesn’t have to prove it—-facts don’t matter. ESPN personnel failed to pay for meals and they trashed hotel rooms at the Hotel Conference. There was use of alcohol and illegal narcotics noted there as well. Facts don’t matter. Do they? Ha! Ha!

    • KoolBell KoolBell says:

      Can’t discuss grades at all. For any reason.

      Probably in our contract with the SEC that we can’t sue ESPN.

      Not a lot we can do but take the high road.

      Most of what has been said about “SPICE” and its use at AU is true. The fact that it was not even considered an illegal substance may only mentioned one time in all of this by ESPN

      I guarantee that the fact that Auburn led the way in getting this substance banned, and aided in finding a positive test that was definitive will not be mentioned. They should be praising Auburn, but they won’t.

      As far as me personally? ESPN can kiss my ASS. They have spoiled the feast as far as I am concerned. In a recent tweet conversation with Edward Ashcroft he seemed flippant when I question his employers motives..

      @AUTigerBloggin A. I don’t see anything happening B. I have a great relationship with people at Auburn so I don’t care if fans whine to me

      There in lies the problem, they don’t care.

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        …..What was interesting in recent developments was that they DID state that Michael Dyer had a 2.8 grade point average. I was under the impression that it was verboten to disclose such…

        ……Yep, virtually any meaningful contract drawn up these days requires the signees to relinquish their rights to sue. Have a grievance with ESPN? You’ll sit down with an “Arbitrator,” who’s salary is paid for by… guess who? ESPN. How’s that likely to turn out?

        …..And it’s the same deal if you want to sue your cellphone provider, cable company, utilities, insurance company, etc.

        • WoodrowAU95 says:

          Thanks Acid Reign for the information as well. You folks do a great job!!!!

          BTW, I just saw the SEC logo intertwined with ESPN in regards to a new network. One word…..D’oh!!!

      • WoodrowAU95 says:

        Thanks, Kool. You Rock, buddy.

        I love the folks that post here (and run this blog). Keep up the good work! And thanks for letting me vent my frustrations to other AU folks.

        I appreciate the information!!! WAR EAGLE!

  9. wde1988 wde1988 says:


    I think the concept of beating up on Auburn has been a national sport for some time. It became an even more popular sport during the Cam Newton scandal… and apparently someone wanted to take it up a notch.

    But believe me… the haters live in high cotton. You question me? Just look at X-bleacher reporter r Franklin Crittenden… or Larry Burton who’s prose on AU got more than a few of us kicked off the BR. These guys would slam us as the dirtiest program around. And this attitude is prominent with anyone who fears AU success… primarily bama and LSU and maybe UGA. All others might hate us, but I don’t think they would go out of thier way to kick us when we are down. But hey, I have been wrong before.

    Ultimately I agree with the COL… however, I’d say that this new tactic is good for our own self-image. And we have been suffering a bit. Yes, 2010 did a lot for us… but it also brought with it a new weight in the Newton scandal, Dyer Scandal, gang of four scandal, the shooting, the program collapse in 2012, firing of Chizik, and now this latest diatribe from a vengeful woman.

    Let’s face it we do have a history… It started with Shug Jordan. And brother Pat (while I love him) didn’t do us any favors during his later years at Auburn during the early 1990s. But it was understandable. There was an “arm’s race” going on… and we lost. I don’t know how else to say it. It’s hard to compete with the guy that football revered as God (aka da bear). The guy that followed Pat, brother Terry talked way too much… but other than that… I think AU has a squeeky clean program. We have been very fortunate. Oh, there has been those who pointed to people like Bobby Lowder… and said “Satan!”… but honestly he was doing what any of us would do who loved Auburn. He is gone now. And I think we can all agree that Brother Jay needs to be put out to pasture too. But when he deserves a compliment… he needs to be recognized as well. This tactic is great and long overdue. It’s time to circle the wagons and fight back…

    …. but the best way to do that… is to JUST WIN BABY!


  10. sparkey sparkey says:

    You know what would’ve made this whole thing different…had the NCAA investigation been done faster. Along with that, the press conference before the Georgia game was Chizik’s finest moment as a head coach at Auburn. We should have done more with that kind of response then. We really missed an opportunity of hitting all of this early and weakening the story’s wheels before they ever got rolling.

  11. “@AUTigerBloggin A. I don’t see anything happening B. I have a great relationship with people at Auburn so I don’t care if fans whine to me”

    Exactly who does he think is the people at Auburn? If the fans are complaining, I am sure that someone (people) is listening……..Guess he doesn’t understand the concept of family. So the administration is the people at Auburn and not the graduates and fans. This is the convoluted thinking that permeates that God-forsaken network.

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