Accuracy in Media

ESPN’s reporting on a noose controversy in a NASCAR garage backfired, but it has yet to offer an apology for hyping the story without properly verifying NASCAR’s claims.

The sports network headlined an article reviewing the noose controversy, “NASCAR releases image of noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage, says concern was ‘real.’”

But the article did not address how ESPN hyped the story to its audiences, with multiple analysts and show hosts condemning the presence of a noose in the garage area of NASCAR’s sole full-time black driver, Bubba Wallace. The article quoted NASCAR president Steve Phelps extensively, but it did not acknowledge ESPN’s complicity in reporting on an unverified claim that spiraled into a short-lived controversy.

The FBI investigated the controversy and found that the noose was used to close the garage door in the NASCAR garage at its Talladega, Alabama racetrack. The agency concluded that it was not a hate crime, which embarrassed ESPN and NASCAR for jumping to conclusions.

Now, ESPN is proceeding without acknowledging how it failed to independently verify sources and information. Neither has the sports network offered an apology for creating a controversy without much evidence to back it up.

NASCAR apologized for not including the word “alleged” in its public statement but said that the concern was “real” and legitimate. ESPN has not issued a statement on its reporting mistakes.

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