Media Pushed Now-Debunked Noose Hate Crime Against NASCAR Driver

June 24, 2020

Network and cable television figures pushed the unsubstantiated allegation that someone committed a hate crime against black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace by putting a noose in his garage, before an FBI investigation debunked it.

Following a report Sunday that a crew member found a noose in Wallace's Talladega garage, media members credulously reported it as both true and a clear retaliation for Wallace's Black Lives Matter activism. Two days later, the FBI reported no hate crime had been committed and the "noose" in question was a garage door pull that had been placed in October, well before anyone knew Wallace would use that particular garage.

CBS This Morning host Gayle King called it a "disturbing backlash" to Wallace's support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for his support of NASCAR's recent ban on displays of the Confederate flag. On MSNBC, liberal Atlantic writer Jemele Hill said it was a "very stunning, shocking, appalling, disgusting reminder of who this sport is for," and anchor Andrea Mitchell called the situation a "dreadful turn."

Axios reporter Alexi McCammond said it was an example of recent "overt and egregious acts of extreme racism," and MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing said she looked forward to discovering the "coward" who "committed that heinous act."

NBC reporter Sam Brock said Wallace had to deal with a "symbol of hatred off the track," MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle called it a "dark moment," and CNN anchor Jim Sciutto said, "that this happens in the year 2020 is just beyond belief."

Some hosts mentioned the skepticism that greeted the initial story, including MSNBC fill-in host John Heilemann, who said Tuesday he found conservative doubts "infuriating." Shortly after, MSNBC correspondent Pete Williams reported on the FBI's findings.

NASCAR said the garage pull was fashioned like a noose and it will continue to investigate the matter, while adding it was relieved it was not an intentional, racist act against Wallace.