ESPN jumped the gun in its reporting about a noose that was allegedly found in a garage for an upcoming NASCAR race. The noose was allegedly found in the garage area of NASCAR’s sole black full-time driver, Bubba Wallace.
Wallace had been outspoken about NASCAR banning the presence of Confederate flags at its racetracks and facilities, which ban was put into place this month by the stock racing body. He did not spot the noose in the garage, but a member of his racing team found it and notified NASCAR of the alleged hate crime.
At the time, ESPN headlined the controversy, “NASCAR says noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega.”
Several ESPN analysts condemned the racist act of hanging a noose in the garage area of the sport’s only black driver and the controversy became the front-and-center focus of the sports network.
For two days, ESPN and its analysts failed to acknowledge the possibility that it was an innocuous rope loop for the garage door or another garage function. It did not independently verify the noose’s existence and did not acquire photographs or video footage of the noose or its location in the garage.
The FBI was brought in to investigate whether the noose was a hate crime, but the federal agency concluded that it was not a hate crime. The agency noted that the alleged noose was already in place in October 2019 and its function may be related to pulling down and closing a garage door.
ESPN spent an exhaustive amount of resources and airtime on the controversy, which could have been averted if it had independently verified the initial report.