The New York Daily News hit its online readers today with this salacious, click-luring headline: “Jason Heyward blitzed with alleged N-word from Cardinals fans in return to St. Louis.”
According to the diligent reporting of Daily News’ writer Kate Feldman, the “alleged” slurs were captured by a crowd mic set up for ESPN’s game broadcast. The N-word may have been used, so says a tweet from ... uh ... somebody, which Feldman embedded in her article. From this, the Daily News concluded, Heyward’s St. Louis homecoming “was marred with racial slurs.”
So exactly who said it? The Daily News can’t say.
How many of the 45,432 paid fans were involved in pelting Heyward with their bigoted epitaphs? Not sure.
Never miss a local story.
Were the offenders removed from the ballpark or addressed in any way by the Cardinals’ organization? Not mentioned, one way or the other.
With so many Cubs’ fans down from Chicago, how can anyone even know it was a Cardinals fan?
No, what Feldman reports is that the ESPN mics picked up some fan(s) somewhere saying something ... “allegedly.” Maybe twice.
A review of the ESPN audio files from the game gives us no evidence of any untoward language being caught by their mics.
And as for Heyward himself? He heard the boos, which he fully expected since he turned down an eight-year, $184 million contract from the Cardinals this past off-season. But he wrote them off as being entirely good-natured. The way he figures it, nobody would have booed if they hadn’t wanted him to stay.
A “blitz” of “alleged” racial slurs? He didn’t hear it.
A homecoming “marred” by racial undertones? Not that he noticed.
“I’m kind of glad that people weren’t happy to see me leave,” he told the press. “The fans should enjoy it, and we’re going to enjoy it.”
Of course, Feldman’s article drew the knee-jerk analysis of the short-attention-span crowd that populates the social media. Plenty of New Yorkers offered their advice to the Cardinals and city of St. Louis about ways to stem the rampant thread of racism upon which Feldman so heroically shined the light.
The Daily News is all too happy to provide them the forum. Racism is a hot topic today, especially in St. Louis, where shame from the Ferguson shooting and resulting protests still stings. And hot topics make great click-bait.
Let’s be real clear: there is no time, no place, and no excuse for bigotry in the 21st century. We should have evolved beyond it long ago. Racism, both societal and institutional, must continue to be discussed in St. Louis and elsewhere.
But for the the New York Daily News to now pretend it is fostering an open dialog among the races by plucking a nondescript handful of dim-witted rednecks from some corner of a sold-out stadium, and use them to represent the attitudes of an entire city, is outrageous. Exploiting the real very issue of racism with the thinly-veiled objective of generating online page views is as disgusting.
I ordinarily would link the article so you can see it yourself, but I will not participate in delivering the clicks they are so desperate to attract.
In the meantime, shoddy journalism, exaggerated claims and sensational headlines elicit no shame from me on behalf of my city.
My profession, though? That’s another story.