Never Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story
Gene Chizik met with the media Monday and called the ESPN/Selena Roberts
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 writer 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.