On Bubba Wallace, Jussie Smollett Comparisons, and Due Diligence Becoming Passé
No hate crime in the Bubba Wallace “noose” investigation.
The FBI came out on Tuesday and explained that a piece of rope, tied to create a loop, had been hanging from the NASCAR driver’s Talladega garage for months, possibly dating back to October of 2019. In a follow-up statement, NASCAR said that segment of rope was functioning as a garage pull door.
It would seem that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, that the person who saw the rope and informed NASCAR was simply mistaken.
Case closed, right?
Wallace, who was shown incredible support when fellow drivers rallied around him on Monday afternoon, went on Don Lemon’s CNN show Tuesday night to talk about the FBI findings, saying this:
"I'm pissed. I'm mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity." – NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace on social media reaction to the conclusion of the FBI investigation into the noose found in his team's garage https://t.co/YH4ynYqv64 pic.twitter.com/fB0m9Yj9FD
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) June 24, 2020
And he also doubled down on idea that this was not a garage pull, but a noose, explaining as such:
"I've been racing all of my life, we've raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that. … It's a straight up noose."
Bubba Wallace to Don Lemon. pic.twitter.com/HnJYpbPrlZ
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) June 24, 2020
That’s the main reason he’s getting shit today, because he went on CNN and said that. People jumped at the opportunity to call him an attention-seeker or narcissist.
One thing worth reiterating is that Wallace did not originally see the “noose,” but that he was informed of it by somebody else. That’s why the Jussie Smollett comparisons are off base, because Jussie straight-up lied to the police and got himself into legal trouble, whereas Wallace was just reacting without first-hand knowledge of the situation.
Therefore, the Jussie tweets are invalid.
Lemon, however, speaks to the macro-level issue when he says this in the first video clip:
“I think in this environment, this hyper-charged environment, that we should all cut each some slack, okay? Because if NASCAR hadn’t done the right thing and acted the way they did, then people would be criticizing them for moving slowly. What they said was “we are investigating,” and they investigated, and they found out that it wasn’t a hate crime. Did they perhaps act quickly? Yes. Did they get it wrong? Somewhat. But I think people will forgive them for this mistake because of the times that we’re in.”
That’s all good and well, and I don’t disagree with Lemon when he says that NASCAR is in a tough spot, but the media deserves a lot of the blame here because we create a lose/lose situation for NASCAR and other organizations. We always jump the gun because we live in a digital and smart phone world where it’s more important to get it first than get it right.
It’s one thing to write stories that reference the NASCAR statement, and say “a noose was allegedly found in Bubba Wallace’s stall, the FBI is looking into it,” but you lose people when writers give the 3,000-word thinkpiece on why NASCAR is “problematic” or “racist” before the investigation is even completed. That looks really dopey when NASCAR comes out a few days later and says that it wasn’t a noose, but a rope fashioned in a loop to function as a garage door opener. Probably a bowline loop, which doesn’t shrink when you pull it, but allows the circle to remain in place for easy gripping.
So I don’t know where we go from here. Wallace doesn’t seem satisfied. Far left types like Megan Rapinoe and Al Sharpton are basically just ignoring the FBI findings while folks on the other side of the political spectrum are getting a good laugh out of another “fake news” story and taking a social media victory lap.
I guess at this point in time we just believe what we want to believe. Unfortunately due diligence seems to be passé in a 2020 media world, where distrust is understandably at an all-time high.