ESPN has been called out as a misinformation merchant after posting a tweet Tuesday about last year's "noose" controversy involving black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.
Here's the tweet:
"Last year, a noose was found in Bubba Wallace's stall at Talladega Superspeedway," the tweet reads. "The next day, the NASCAR community stood with him in unity."
The tweet — which promotes an E60 "Fistful of Steel" documentary on Wallace — adds a quote from the driver featured in a documentary trailer also seen in the tweet: "I was like, 'Holy s***, it's the whole garage' ... That's when I lost it."
The trailer shows many NASCAR drivers pushing his car down the track in solidarity with him as well as Wallace's emotional reaction to the gesture by fellow drivers at the time.
What's the problem?
The language employed in the EPSN tweet isn't necessarily inaccurate. The FBI's statement about the incident refers to the object discovered in Wallace's stall a "noose" — and does so three times.
But that's not all the agency said, either.
"The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week," the agency said in a June 23, 2020 statement. "The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week."
In other words, the "noose" was in the garage well before Wallace raced at Talladega last year and wasn't meant for him. The FBI also "concluded that no federal crime was committed."
NASCAR said in a statement — found in ESPN's piece on last year's incident titled, "FBI says rope had been in Talladega garage since October; Bubba Wallace not victim of hate crime" — that "the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall."
That's right: no hate crime against Wallace. But he still was angry about what he saw, even if it wasn't meant for him.
"It was a noose that, whether tied in 2019 or whatever, it was a noose," Wallace told CNN's Don Lemon at the time. "So, it wasn't directed at me, but somebody tied a noose, that's what I am saying."
What the ESPN tweet leaves out
Thing is, ESPN's tweet in question makes no mention of Wallace not being targeted in the incident, neither does it note that the "noose" didn't equate to a hate crime.
And ESPN has been dragged through the mire since the post went up. In fact, the responses to the tweet from the sports network have skyrocketed: Over 13,000 comments compared to just 2,400 likes as of Wednesday afternoon.
What have observers been saying?
Some Twitter users also caught the fact that ESPN's tweet left out important information, among them Donald Trump Jr., who told the sports network in part, "... you’re still pretending it was a hate crime to sow division? What’s next the ESPN True Hollywood story of the MAGA attack on Jussie Smollett?"
- "They literally still think it’s a hate crime," another commenter said.
- Another user called the Wallace story "fake outrage" and asked "... why is this 'hate crime' story still being peddled?"
- "According to @espn, @BubbaWallace was not the victim of a hate crime," another commenter noted.
- "Hi @Twitter@TwitterSafety, can we please get @espn suspended for spreading misinformation?" another user asked. "That seems like a service y'all provide regularly. Thanks."
Fox News said ESPN did not immediately respond to its request for comment on its controversial tweet.