TMZ fabricates Hope Solo story, and other media buy it

tmz

On Tuesday, the day the U.S. women’s team visited the White House, TMZ reported that President Barack Obama had deliberately snubbed Hope Solo.

The celebrity gossip site implied that Obama wanted nothing to do with the U.S. goalkeeper because of the domestic violence case still pending against her.

tmzmm“Even Barack Obama is distancing himself from Hope Solo,” the TMZ story began. It said the president refused to  acknowledge Solo during the ceremony.

TMZ also said Obama had “iced out” the U.S. goalkeeper, and that “Solo got no love from Obama.” One TMZ headline, complete with exclamation point, said:

President Obama Disses Hope Solo!

“We’re guessing it has everything to do with her domestic violence case,” TMZ said.

Guessing is the key word there.

The TMZ story is bullshit.bullshit

Which didnt’ stop a company of media parrots, including reputable (or semi-reputable) news sites like CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports, MSN, Inside Edition, Hollywood Life, and the Boston Herald, from repeating the bullshit.

The only basis for TMZ’s claim that Obama was distancing himself from Solo is this:

In welcoming the U.S. team, the president didn’t mention her by name.

What TMZ doesn’t say is that Obama didn’t mention most of the U.S. players by name.

Obama spoke for about nine minutes. Thanks to C-Span, you can watch a video of his remarks in their entirety here. (On the same page, there’s a verbatim transcript of what the president said.)

President Barack Obama (No. 44) with the world champions. (AP)

President Barack Obama (No. 44) with the world champions. (AP)

In his remarks, Obama mentioned eight members of the U.S. team:

He started by congratulating Sydney Leroux on her wedding. Then he noted that a farmer in California had cut a corn maze in the shape of Megan Rapinoe‘s face.

He praised Christie Rampone for her leadership and Alex Morgan for her playmaking (thereby demonstrating that his knowledge of the game and of this team is, let’s say,  limited).

He made fun of Heather O’Reilly‘s game face.

hao

He expressed his admiration for “Becky Sauerbrunn‘s quiet dominance and Abby Wambach‘s not-so-quiet dominance.”

And he lavished compliments on World Cup MVP Carli Lloyd. (Obama  joked that Lloyd should  enter the presidential race, saying, “I guarantee you Carli knows more about being president than some of the folks who are running.”)

That’s it. Eight names.

So, yeah, it’s true that Obama didn’t mention Hope Solo.

But does that mean he snubbed her?

Not unless TMZ thinks he also snubbed the universally beloved, newly retired Lauren Holiday. He didn’t mention her, either.

Not unless he deliberately snubbed Shannon Boxx, who, like Holiday, has just concluded a stellar career with Team USA. Obama never mentioned her.

Shannon Boxx is introduced before her final game, against Brazil in Seattle on Oct. 21, 2015. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Shannon Boxx is introduced before her final game, against Brazil in Seattle on Oct. 21, 2015. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Was he distancing himself from Lori Chalupny, who battled her way back onto the U.S. roster after a five-year absence due to repeated concussions?

Did he intentionally diss Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, and Julie Johnston, whose marvellous defense locked down opponent after opponent in the World Cup?

Did he deliberately ignore Christen Press? Tobin Heath? Kelley O’Hara?

Amy Rodriguez? Morgan Brian?

Of course not.

He just didn’t mention them by name.

He didn’t mention two-thirds of the team by name.

It’s no secret that TMZ occasionally bends the facts for the sake of a sensational headline. “Obama Disses Solo!” is hardly the first example of bullshit masquerading as journalism on the pages of the website, and it won’t be the last.

What’s troubling, I think, is the way supposedly legitimate news organizations were so quick to help spread the bullshit.

Aren’t journalists supposed to be skeptical?

Aren’t they taught to double-check everything?

Aren’t they taught that fairness and accuracy are paramount?

I guess not.

By the way, if Solo was snubbed during the White House visit, she didn’t seem to notice. Judging from her tweets that day, she had a fine time.

 

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