CNN’s John Avalon admitted Monday that his own network jumped the gun when reporting on an alleged racist incident at Brigham Young University (BYU).
BYU launched an investigation and barred a fan from entering campus after Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson claimed the fan called her the n-word during an Aug. 26 game. The investigation concluded there was no “evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event.”
CNN gave extensive attention to the allegations, with Jim Acosta inviting former NAACP president Cornell William Brooks on to criticize BYU’s handling of the incident and Brianna Keilar having Richardson’s father on to discuss, according to Fox News. Avalon admitted Monday the network should have exercised more skepticism in their reporting. (RELATED: Major Networks Carried King Charles’ First Speech But Not Biden’s ‘Threat To Democracy’ Address)
“Healthy skepticism is always a virtue, but this doesn’t read like a coverup. Instead, it feels like there was a rush to judgment because of a well-intentioned impulse to believe the Duke player’s accusations,” Avalon said. Avalon also noted that BYU did not conclude that Richardson was lying, only that there was no available evidence to corroborate her claims.
“Systemic racism is real and corrosive to the soul of our country, but facts always have to come first,” Avalon said.
“When investigations turn up a very different fact pattern, it’s incumbent upon everyone to acknowledge it and adjust. Fidelity to the facts is all that we as journalists and citizens should ask,” he continued. “It’s understandable that there’s a desire to believe people when they say they’ve been victimized, but the accusations have to be backed up by facts, and when the facts don’t fit upon further review, we need to set the record straight with as much intensity as the initial reports.”