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.
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.
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.)
In his remarks, Obama mentioned eight members of the U.S. team:
He made fun of Heather O’Reilly‘s game face.
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.
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?
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.