The Colin Kaepernick workout situation has split many fans, observers and media members into factions. There are those who believe Kaepernick was wronged by the NFL and that the NFL’s workout was just a P.R. stunt. There are those who believe Kaepernick is more interested in furthering his career as an activist than playing football. The events of this week are unlikely to change anyone’s minds based on what they believed before, and probably only strengthened their previous beliefs.
Kaepernick has his media supporters and his team/reps leak information to them. The NFL has their media members of choice and leak information to them.
Charles Robinson has been a go-to media member for Kaepernick’s team and has written several pro-Kaepernick pieces since news of the NFL-backed workout became public on Tuesday. Hearing both sides of a story is important for providing balanced coverage and allowing people to make their choices about what they believe to be truthful and not. Robinson has provided Kaepernick’s camp with a platform and large outlet to share their views. That serves a valuable role.
However, while Robinson can provide his pro-Kaepernick biased pieces, one thing he should strive for is to at least be factually accurate with his platform. He was not on Saturday night on Twitter when he alleged the NFL asserted Nike attended the Kaepernick workout on Saturday to film it.
Robinson said on Twitter that the NFL made an “assertion” that Nike was “on hand to film Colin Kaepernick’s workout.” He even said Nike was trying to get the NFL to retract that statement.
I have a source that has confirmed this. #Nike was not on hand to film Colin Kaepernick’s workout, despite NFL’s assertion. Nike is currently trying to get the NFL to retract that statement. https://t.co/MI4TfIRhNv
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) November 17, 2019
This sounds like a big gotcha! moment and more proof of the NFL being wrong and looking to smear Kaepernick and his brand. But there is one big problem: the NFL NEVER said that, so there is no statement to retract.
In the NFL’s statement in response to Kaepernick no-showing their workout and instead handling his own, the league wrote the following:
NFL’s response to Colin Kaepernick opting to do his own workout today in Atlanta: pic.twitter.com/uvUZGH7CQ5
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 16, 2019
The third bullet point mentioned Nike and said this:
“Last night, when Nike, with Colin’s approval, requested to shoot an ad featuring Colin and mentioning all the NFL teams present at the workout, we agreed to the request.”
The fifth bullet point also mentioned Nike and said this:
“We heard for the first time last night, around the same time we heard from Nike, that Colin wanted to bring his own video crew. We heard for the first time this afternoon that Colin wanted to open the event to all media.”
The NFL never once said Nike attended Saturday’s workout. All they said was that Nike requested to shoot an ad featuring Kaepernick and that the league agreed to the request. Those are two different things.
If a person asks whether they can bring a friend to the party and the host says yes, does that mean that the friend came to the party? No, it just means that the person asked and the host said yes.
What is so hard about that to understand?
The thing about the Kaepernick story — as this example perfectly illustrates — is that people are seeing what is unfolding for what they want to see. In the case of Robinson, his bias is so strong that he isn’t even representing the facts accurately, which makes him lose credibility.
If he wants to represent Kaepernick’s side of things, that is fine. But at least attempt to be accurate and fair, especially when you have this platform and the influence that goes along with it. At the time of this publishing, his tweet was retweeted by over 1,400 Twitter accounts and liked by over 3,000.
On top of that, after Robinson tweeted to suggest Nike caught the NFL in a lie, Jemele Hill joined in and added it to her story, saying it’s all “part of pushing the narrative.”
Like I been saying. Watch for the hook. This is all part of pushing the narrative that Kaepernick doesn’t really want it https://t.co/WlwiV0NjQu
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 17, 2019
Hill didn’t even bother to see whether the story was accurate or not. She just took the information and added it to the story she wants to tell, even if it’s not true.
If either of these respected journalists cared about fairness and accuracy — which are key tenets for journalists — then they would issue corrections and retractions to let their audiences know the truth. If they don’t, then their positions will have been made clear: they are slanted activists working to make Kaepernick look good, not to present facts and truth.