Man, that Ryan Lochte, what a jerk! Am I right? Of course I’m right. It’s backed up by journalism. There isn’t a news outlet on the planet that hasn’t carried a story about how Lochte and three other swimmers no one bothers to name got hammered at the Rio Olympics, trashed a bathroom at a gas station, and traumatized innocent security guards, women, children, and plant life alike.
But what if it didn’t happen that way? What if, with the exception of a few minor details flubbed in a drunken haze, Lochte and his fellow mermen told the truth?
That might seem far-fetched. After all, media luminaries such as Matt Lauer and Al Roker slammed Lochte as a liar. Lochte himself admitted to lying. It’s true; we saw it in the media. Or did we?
The story begins after the swimmers were done with their events. Friends hit the town, as anyone would, and had a few (maybe a few too many) adult beverages. If you think you wouldn’t seek to blow off some steam and have a little fun after going through what it takes to become an Olympic champion, you’re lying to yourself.
None of this was illegal; none of it was wrong.
As anyone who’s had a few drinks can imagine, on the way back to their rooms, the swimmers had to pee. This is where the media narrative goes off the rails.
You know the story – they kicked in a door, trashed the bathroom, smashed the mirror and knocked the soap dispenser off the wall. Total jackasses. Right? Right?
That’s the story the Rio police chief spun, and after a day of running with the “we were robbed” narrative, the media immediately flipped and took his word as if he’d just returned from Mt. Sinai.
Lochte immediately became the villain, the traumatizer of innocent Brazilians, the drunk jerk. He lost his sponsor and became the butt of jokes.
But what if he was telling the truth? What if the police lied?
Although 99 percent of the media did what the media always does – get a narrative and run with it – one team did actual journalism. What it discovered not only exposed how the US swimmers were telling the truth, but also how lazy and horrible the American media has become.
USA Today’s sports editor, David Meeks, and reporter Taylor Barnes actually went to the gas station, looked for damage, talked to witnesses and reviewed surveillance videos. What they discovered by simply asking questions, something journalists used to do, was what Lochte and the others told officials actually happened.
They found no damage to the bathroom – the mirror and soap dispensers were still intact or had been replaced not by new equipment but filthy, old equipment complete with crusty old soap. The door was old and undamaged, not kicked in.
Through actual journalism, the USA Today team saw all the surveillance videos, and even though the bathroom door was in frame, there is no footage of the swimmers entering, exiting or kicking it. Unable to gain entry to the bathroom, they’d relieved themselves behind the building, then went back to their cab. That’s when it gets interesting.
A security guard, who the paper discovered was either a prison guard or off-duty cop moonlighting (no one will say which), stopped the car by flashing his badge. He did pull his gun and point it at the swimmers. This is the only place Lochte’s story deviates from what the actual evidence says.
Lochte reported the gun was put to his forehead. It wasn’t. It was pointed at him, according to the USA Today, at a distance of about 5 feet. That’s it.
So there’s zero evidence these men, who were drunk, did any damage except allegedly to a poster on the side of the building. For that alleged “crime,” which no one witnessed, they were “charged” a wad of cash by the guard while held at gunpoint. If that isn’t a robbery, what is?
If this isn’t a smear campaign by a lazy media more interested in a scandal than the truth, what is?
Lochte did not come across as someone you’d want to date your sister or be on your team in a trivia contest. But that doesn’t make him a monster. The media took that vibe he gives off, one they helped foster, and used it against him.
Nearly everyone with a media credential from a major news outlet in the United States was in Rio. So you spend the month before the Olympics telling us how corrupt this police force is, but only one media outlet bothers to check a story spoon-fed them by the chief of that force? Now we know the swimmers were never, not once, questioned about the alleged vandalism. Weird, right?
But the narrative already had been chosen by the media – Lochte is an arrogant jerk, party boy – so why bother seeing if he was telling the truth before ruining his life? And ruin his life they did.
Lochte lost all his sponsors, all his income, because the media found a story that was too good to check.
Rather than do journalism, or even report the truth after having gotten the facts wrong, the media simply spins on.
On Tuesday, long after the initial USA Today piece exposed the truth, ABC Radio News was sticking with its “Lochte trashed the place” story. No other outlet bothered to retract or even re-examine its “reporting.” The story is set. Lochte is screwed. The world has rolled on.
Time posts Stephen Colbert mocking him. Left-wing blogs moronically claim Lochte is the beneficiary of “white privilege,” Democratic Party stenographers at the Huffington Post asked the all-important question: Is Lochte a Trump supporter?
These people are idiots. More importantly, they are evil.
They don’t know the truth; they haven’t bothered to seek it out. They know the narrative, and the narrative is enough. Americans suck, and Ryan Lochte is an American who is a wealthy white guy, so screw him. Truth be damned.
Ryan Lochte may well be a jerk, but the evidence shows he’s not lying here. The so-called journalists smearing him are.
They’ve ruined him. They have their pelt. They can pin it to the wall next to other people they’ve decided need to be destroyed simply because they felt like it.
Remember Justine Sacco? You shouldn’t, but you’ve probably heard of her. She was a PR professional who’d tweeted a stupid joke about AIDS before hopping on a plane to South Africa. By the time she landed, joyless progressive journalists had turned her into history’s greatest monster. She not only was the target of intense hatred over that joke, she lost her job. All because this person no one had ever heard of did something that upset progressive sensibilities.
How about Lindsey Stone? She posted a picture of herself flipping the bird and fake-yelling at a “Silence and Respect” sign at Arlington Cemetery. She was just an anonymous person going about her business, making a joke countless thousands of people have in locations around the world, and her life was turned upside-down by the media because of it. She lost her job too, thanks to “outrage” drummed up by journalists manufacturing a story out of boredom.
Journalists don’t do journalism anymore. They recite press releases. They used to dig for stories. Now they have “scoops” handed to them because they can be trusted to spout the narrative. Journalists used to demand answers for the American people. Now they can’t even be bothered to file Freedom of Information Act requests to demand accountability from left-wing politicians.
How many scandals involving the Obama administration or Hilary Clinton’s time as secretary of state came about through dogged investigative journalism compared to information discovered by Citizens United or Judicial Watch? What’s the ratio there, 100 to1? Higher?
Even when journalists are there on the scene, like they were in Rio, the idea of venturing beyond the safe space of the narrative is a bridge too far. Smear first, retract (maybe) later. Why check the biggest story of the day when the narrative is so juicy? If the media can do it to an Olympic swimmer, or people know one has ever heard of, they can (and try) do it to politicians. What’s to stop them from doing it to you if you find yourself on the wrong side of their narrative? The answer is simple: nothing is stopping them.
Ryan Lochte’s former sponsors should retract their dismissals of him. He did no more than anyone would have after four years’ work culminated in a gold medal. Speedo, Ralph Lauren, and the others have a chance to tell the pimps of narrative to go to hell, to show the world truth matters and lazy journalism won’t be allowed to ruin another person.
That might be too much to ask from corporations terrified of a progressive mob that would throw its own mothers under a bus for political advantage. But if they won’t stand up for the truth, why should anyone buy their products?
(Seriously, read this USA Today story and see if any of the verified story jibes with what you’ve heard from the mainstream media. They destroyed a man simply because they were lazy, simply because they could. Disgusting.)