Does anyone remember?
- The Cameron Newton media smear campaign of 2010?
- The smear of Gene Chizik just prior to this season?
- The anti Heisman smear by Thayer Evans of Fox Sports?
- The impeccable sources of Joe Schad of ESPN?
Today the NCAA released a statement that seemed to call the legitimacy and truthfulness of all of these into question. Auburn University, Cameron Newton and the entire Auburn athletic program were exonerated of any wrongdoing by the NCAA today. This was the result of 13 months of exhaustive investigation.
One quote from the NCAA letter seemed to be particularly damning of the media activity in this matter. According to David Morrison, an Auburn beat reporter for ONAN News, ”Any allegations of major rules violations must meet a burden of proof, which is a higher standard than rampant public speculation online and in the media.” It was a direct quote from the letter.
In the copycat environment of today’s media these unsubstantiated allegations were reported hundreds of thousands of times across the nation as legitimate news. The reputation of Auburn University, the Auburn coaching staff, and Cameron Newton seemed to have been irreparably damaged by rumors and speculation with no credible proof. If this is the case, it is a prime example of irresponsible reporting with a total lack of checks and balances within the media organizations.
There is no way to go back and correct the damage from the irresponsible activity of these major media outlets. It is unlikely they will even report that their own reporting has been thrown into the realm of suspect speculation.
The NCAA statement on the investigation was only one short but revealing paragraph. The letter to Auburn University contained much more detail as to exactly what the NCAA looked into.