CNN’s John Avlon acknowledges media failure on ‘racist’ BYU allegations

John Avlon revealed CNN acted too soon on a racist allegation between a Duke University athlete and a BYU fan.

BYU released a statement that they interviewed more than 50 individuals and reviewed audio and video evidence, but found no evidence to back the claim.

On a Sept. 12 broadcast, John Avlon, senior political analyst for CNN, confessed that CNN and other networks made premature judgments concerning a racism allegation against a Brigham Young University (BYU) fan by Duke University volleyball player Rachel Richardson. 

Avlon noted that “[h]ealthy skepticism is always a virtue, but this doesn’t read like a cover-up. Instead, it feels like a rush to judgment because of a well-intentioned impulse to believe the Duke player’s accusations.”

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“Systemic racism is real, and corrosive to the soul of our country. But facts always have to come first,” he continued.

Richardson accused a BYU fan of calling her the n-word at an Aug. 26 volleyball game. However, after conducting a thorough investigation into the incident, interviewing more than 50 individuals who attended the game and analyzing video and audio evidence, BYU concluded that there was no evidence the racist heckling ever took place.

“From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event,” BYU’s official statement read.

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The statement also explained that BYU’s earlier ban of the accused fan from attending games was lifted, and apologized for any hardship that was caused to them. 

Gina Lay, mother of a BYU student, told Campus Reform that in her view the news media is looking more for the ratings instead of getting the facts right, and that she appreciates Avlon's honesty.

“I appreciate this journalist’s statement that the news media need to have as much passion in reporting the new findings as they did in the initial victim story,” she emphasized.

Lay went on to state that there was “no doubt that sensitivity was present during the game that night” and that she’s “glad the initial mistake has been reexamined and that innocent people have been cleared of wrongdoing.”

Campus Reform contacted BYU, Duke University, CNN, and Rachel Richardson for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.