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Media outlets like CNN and MSNBC overlooked the recent incident involving Oregon Ducks fans shouting obscenities during a college football game on Saturday.
Over the weekend, videos emerged of Oregon fans loudly chanting “f— the Mormons” during a game against Brigham Young University, a private school sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, R., shared one video of fans chanting on his Twitter account, calling the chant an example of religious bigotry.
“Religious bigotry alive and celebrated in Oregon,” Cox tweeted.
The Oregon Pit, the student section of the University of Oregon, later apologized on Twitter shortly after the videos went public.
“To all @BYUfootball fans in attendance at todays game we would like to apologize for the actions of the students in attendance. We do not condone or support any hateful speech directed towards one’s religion and are ashamed of those who participated,” it tweeted.
University of Oregon’s interim vice president for the Division of Student Life also issued a statement.
“The university apologizes for the despicable chants made by some University of Oregon fans at today’s football game with Brigham Young University. There is no place for hate, bias or bigotry at the University of Oregon. These actions are simply unacceptable. We will investigate, and we call on our students and campus community to refuse to accept or tolerate this type of behavior,” the statement said.
Although Oregon was quick to respond after videos emerged, mainstream media largely ignored the incident as well as the university’s apology. MSNBC and CNN had no reports on the event, though NBC reported on the story on Sunday afternoon.
“A representative for the University of Oregon apologized on Saturday after video posted to social media appeared to show fans of the school’s football team chanting an expletive directed at fans of Brigham Young University, a private university of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at a football game between the universities earlier the same day,” Julianne McShane reported.
The New York Times and the Washington Post also have been silent on the story as well, even though the Washington Post reported on the game on Thursday.
This contrasted reporting on a racial slur allegedly being hurled at a Black women’s volleyball player at Duke University last month. Rachel Richardson claimed that during a match against Brigham Young University, she heard a fan yell the n-word towards her “throughout the entirety of the match.” Shortly after her claim went viral, BYU apologized for the alleged incident and removed and banned the suspected fan who was revealed to be a Utah Valley University student.
However, an investigation into the event could not corroborate Richardson’s story, and several witnesses stated they did not hear any racial slurs during the game. So far, no video ever emerged of the slur being used.
Media outlets were quick to report on the story. ABC News’ website published at least three articles on the allegations and featured Richardson on “Good Morning America.” CNN featured several segments on the topic including interviews with Richardson’s father, former NAACP president Cornell William Brooks and BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe. The story was also heavily featured on ESPN.
After BYU’s investigation found no evidence corroborating Richardson’s claim, some media outlets gave an update on the investigation. CNN’s John Avalon did a segment critical of the media’s rush to report the story before verifying it themselves.
“Fidelity to the facts is all that we as journalists and citizens should ask,” Avlon said. “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.”
Brigham Young University was also subjected to obscene chants of “f— the Mormons” last year during a football game against the USC Trojans. Though no videos emerged of the chanting, the school later released a statement apologizing for the “distasteful” event.
“The offensive chant from our student section directed towards BYU during the football game last night does not align with our Trojan values,” USC wrote at the time.