Posted on September 9, 2022

CNN, ABC, ESPN Promoted Duke Volleyball Player’s Racial Slur Story, Go Quiet on Developments Debunking Claim

Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Fox News, September 8, 2022

A controversy involving a racial slur allegedly being directed at a Black college athlete captured the attention of the national media – at least until her claim faced further scrutiny.

Duke University volleyball player Rachel Richardson went viral after she claimed that a fan from Brigham Young University (BYU) hurled the n-word at her “throughout the entirety of the match” between the two schools on August 26. Her in-the-moment allegation led to the immediate removal and permanent ban of the suspected BYU fan, who was actually a Utah Valley University student, and BYU issued apologies to both Richardson and Duke University.

Except her claim was never corroborated. In fact, it was discredited.

BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer told the Salt Lake Tribune that his department reviewed surveillance camera footage of the alleged racist fan from the game, telling the paper, “When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him.”

Besendorfer added that no one from the student section from the crowd has come forward to back up Richardson’s claim.

A BYU police officer present at the game said he did not hear any racial slurs from the crowd, according to police report obtained by Deseret News. {snip}


Despite the numerous revelations that have surfaced since Richardson went public, the most prominent media outlets that promoted her claim have failed to update their coverage.

Richardson was prominently featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and was interviewed about what she claimed to have experienced during its broadcast on August 30.

ABC News correspondent Janai Norman, who spoke with the 19-year-old sophomore, said she was “really impressed” with “how she is handling all of this.”

“A lot of grace,” co-host George Stephanopoulos reacted.


CNN gave her story far more air-time with separate programs echoing Richardson’s unchallenged claims.

Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell grilled BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe for not taking enough swift action to stop the “racist slurs and threats” immediately.

Weekend anchor Jim Acosta invited on former NAACP president Cornell William Brooks, who spent the interview lambasting BYU’s handling of the alleged incident.


ESPN, sister network to ABC News, similarly offered uncritical coverage of the episode.

“I’m saying BYU- YOU did it!” host Stephen A. Smith shouted. “By allowing this to happen and not addressing expeditiously, not addressing it with a level of quickness and speed that you should’ve addresses this with.”