One thing the last 10 months have provided us — you know, outside of daily tweets that make one want to pull their hair out — is the term “Fake News.” What started as an attack on unfavorable coverage from a variety of large-scale news outlets has trickled down to the garbage that permeates aggregating mediums like Facebook. “Fake News” has become the default internet reply for folks who don’t like what they’re seeing. It’s even gotten it’s own hashtag so you know it’s legit.
The premise is simple: Someone writes something, oftentimes with a click-me-now headline, and it finds its way to the timelines of a few people. They share it to their followers, oftentimes blind to the actual truth, and it spreads rapidly. There will be a portion of the individuals who see it and realize that it’s straight up garbage, but by this time, countless others have treated it as gospel. I once had a conversation with someone who saw a story about declining cable subscribers, and they asked me if I saw that “they’re going to stop making TVs.” I’m dead serious. Had #FakeNews been a thing at this point, I could have dropped it on them right then and there. It would’ve been glorious.
This, however, leads me to late last week. A quick Google search for “LeBron James” provided me with the following:
Taunting. Mocking. Unloads. Calls out. The horror. There’s just one catch, however: It’s 100 percent not true.
If you click the Fox News link (I wouldn’t, but bear with me here for the sake of this story), it takes you to a post about how James had a few unkind words to say about the “Keeping up with the Kardashians” film crew. The post links to a story by the New York Post and includes an Instagram video uploaded by something called “The Shade Crew” which takes one of James’ IG stories, republished with the caption “Looks like #LeBronJames wasn’t here for all the extra cameras 😩😩 Word on the street is the “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” crew made their way into the Cavs’ workout session 👀,” including the hashtag #PressPlay. It’s been viewed over 1.3 million times.
This, as it would be, trickled down to outlets like Vibe, Complex, Maxim, and more, all describing what James said in his video, one where he referred to “The Shit Show”, using it in some form to link the four-time MVP to one of pop culture’s most famous families — one which happens to be linked to his teammate and friend Tristan Thompson. Intrigue and drama abound.
But if one were to 1) look closely at the video, or 2) understand how the NBA works, they would quickly see that every person in that room with a camera, video camera, or cell phone, is an NBA employee — NBA TV, NBAE/Getty, etc. — or was affiliated with the team, obtaining preseason content of the team’s workout to use at a later date. They do it every season.
For example: Here’s one of the shots from David Liam Kyle, the excellent, long-time photographer, taken from that very day.
Now, David may have joined the Kardashian’s film crew and has yet to tell me, but as far as I know, this is not the case.
Now, I’ll also resign to the fact that many may not know David. While I’d counter with a seven-foot-tall photographer is tough to miss, I get it. But what I don’t get: The NBA also posted updates from that same day, hinting toward some footage being shared prior to the team’s impending game.
Try as I might on Twitter and other areas to say “um, hey guys — this is wrong”, these outlets — one which said LeBron “mercilessly mocked” Thompson’s girlfriend, another which said the Kardashian crew “invaded” the team’s workout — have gotten countless retweets, shares, likes, and comments on a story that is unequivocally false. One commenter even managed to tie this all back to Donald Trump. Think of the mental gymnastics needed for that one.
I’ve resigned to the fact that people are always going to believe whatever they want. The trick is deciphering actual journalism from whatever the hell leads us down these rabbit holes of inaccuracy.
This Week in #ActualSportswriting:
- “Isaiah Thomas: “Best Year of My Career, Worst Year of My Life” by Lee Jenkins (Sports Illustrated)1
- “The Downside of Baseball’s Data Revolution” by Brian Costa and Jared Diamond (Wall Street Journal)
- “No Excuses: Jerry Rice is Playing Like a Champion” by Kevin Clark (The Ringer)2
- “My NFL Sunday with a Sports Betting Syndicate” by David Purdum (ESPN)3
This Week in #ActualNonSportswriting:
- “Two Strangers Bond Over Country Music and Beer. Then Gunshots Started.” by Wesley Lowery (Washington Post)4
- “How to Reduce Mass Shooting Deaths? Experts Say These Gun Laws Could Help” by Margot Sanger-Katz and Quoctrung Bui (NY Times)
- “Confessions of a Trump Fact-Checker” by Daniel Dale (POLITICO)5
- “A Death at Penn State” by Caitlin Flanagan (The Atlantic)
This Week in Picks:
The good news? In my weekly pick’em pool, I had nine games correctly selected against the spread. The bad news? The winner had 10. Worse, right before the 1 p.m. games, I decided to swap Carolina (+1) to Detroit at home … which did not go as planned. In this spot, I went 2-1 with the Giants failing to cover once again. The OBJ loss is brutal for a team that was already winless.
Last week provided us a slew of games that were anywhere between pick ’em to three points in the way of spreads. This week is nearly the inverse with six games being a touchdown or more — five of which are double digits (sup, Browns?). Let’s give this a whirl.
Los Angeles Rams (+2.5) vs. JACKSONVILLE
Los Angeles Chargers (pick) vs. OAKLAND
MINNESOTA (+3) vs. Green Bay
Last Week: 2-1
YTD ATS: 9-6
- Read this now; come back after. [↩]
- This is terrific. [↩]
- “Back when we started, we maybe did $2 million in volume in a year,” Sigsbee says. “Now, we do $2 million in a couple weeks.” [↩]
- A chilling story about a topic where the word “tragedy” does little justice. One of the subjects is from Columbus. [↩]
- “What we’re experiencing from Trump is a daily avalanche of wrongness. The essential truth of this election cannot be conveyed with an examination of any one particular chunk of ice. The story is the massive accumulation of nonsense, big stuff and little stuff alike, day after day.” [↩]