ESPN Argues Ryan Lochte Represents White Privilege, Fails Miserably

ESPN has decided to become MSNBC. 

It's a disastrous business decision for three reasons:

1. MSNBC is the consistently lowest rated news station -- meaning liberal political opinion doesn't rate on television.

2. Sports is an escape from politics for most fans. That is, people watch sports because it specifically isn't political. 

3. Most sports fans are actually conservative. 

But that's not stopping MSNBC/ESPN from going all in on liberal sports opinion. 

Yesterday ESPN published a perfect example of this newfound editorial direction, an article holding up Ryan Lochte as the perfect example of white privilege. The article was flawed in every way, which I'm going to demonstrate by systematically disemboweling every argument made in the story. Get ready fam, and stay woke. 

Here we go:

But, first, here are the undisputed facts of the Ryan Lochte incident. Lochte and three swimming buddies went out drinking. On the way home they stopped to go to the bathroom. The bathroom door was locked so the four swimmers peed in the grass outside the gas station. Ryan Lochte also pulled down a tattered sign hanging on the side of the gas station. At this point two Brazilian gas station security guards arrived, pointed their guns at the American swimmers and demanded money while screaming at them in Portuguese. Under gunpoint the American swimmers gave them several hundred dollars.

The swimmers were then allowed to leave.

Lochte told his mom about the incident, which was publicized the next day. 

Several days later, angry over all the media attention the incident was receiving, the Brazilian government then seized the passports of the three American swimmers still in the country -- pulling two of them off the airplane as they attempted to return to America. One of the American swimmers was forced to pay nearly $11,000 in extortion money in order to leave Brazil.

Experts in Brazilian law have told American media that the four swimmers committed no legal offenses since their report that they were robbed was not a false statement to the police. The undisputed facts, as you can see above, clearly support the American swimmer belief that they were robbed. In fact, giving over money while someone points a gun at you is the very definition of a robbery in America, and any other country where the rule of law governs. 

Despite all of these undisputed facts ESPN has, amazingly, decided to use Ryan Lochte as a poster boy for white privilege. 

The bolded words in my column are direct quotes from an opinion piece that was featured on the front page of 

The article's headline is:

"Dear Fellow White People:

White privilege is a thing. And Rio was the perfect example."

This is, then, an open letter from one white person to all other white people pointing out that Ryan Lochte and the US swimmer treatment in Brazil was the "perfect example" of white privilege.


The article begins with a rallying cry:

"I've just been working in the media for a long time, and this (white privilege) has become an issue that pisses me off to no end. The social tightrope that black athletes have to walk to avoid criticism is absurd, and at the same time, we can't help but always give white athletes the benefit of doubt. What unfolded in Rio is a great example of how far we still have to go."

This is an important jumping off point because it elucidates the way many white people in sports media feel. White men in the media -- and white women -- are far more likely to rip white athletes than they are black athletes because the only way a white person loses a sports job is by being seen as racist.

That's it.

So when white men behave badly every white person in the media wants to line up and grab their pound of flesh. This way when a black guy gets in trouble and white media are forced to talk about it the white media can point to the way they treated Ryan Lochte and say, "Nuh uh, we're not racist, look at what we wrote and said about Ryan Lochte."

This also explains the entire twenty year old Peyton Manning mooning coverage this past February and why virtually no media asked any questions about Missouri's "hunger strike" that ended up costing the university hundreds of millions of dollars. Manning was a rich white male athlete, Missouri's fake protests were endorsed by young black students. Everyone ripped Manning even though the story was made up by a crazy woman and promoted by a white race hustler pretending to be black. Virtually no one in the media questioned the Missouri protests because they were being led by young black men and if you doubt young black men in the sports media you leave yourself open to accusations of racism, the only thing that can cost you your job.  

Missouri's protest worked because of black privilege, a default assumption of white media that black students were telling the truth and protesting legitimately even when they were not. And the Manning attack worked because the very presumption of the article that set off the media firestorm was that Manning was receiving white privilege because his twenty year old mooning wasn't being talked about enough.

Now that the facts of Ryan Lochte and the American swimmers are public, this story joins a long litany of supposed white male wrongdoing that has been much ballyhooed and then disproved: Duke Lacrosse, the made up gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house, Peyton Manning and the Lochte case all have something in common -- the American media decided that privileged white men were to blame and railroaded them even though the facts didn't support their opinions.

It's important before we go even further to make this point very clear: most in the American white media wanted Ryan Lochte to be in the wrong here because Lochte being in the wrong allows white people to beat up on white athletes.

This, by the way, is not unique to American sports media. Fans do it too. Who are the most hated college basketball players year after year? White guys who play for Duke. Why do, mostly white, fans direct so much hate at white Duke players? Because if you hate a black college player you might be accused of racism, but if you hate a white college player, that's just good fun.

Put simply, most white people in this country fear being called racist more than they fear any other thing in American public life.

If you rip Lochte and you're a white man or woman in the sports media, you can't be racist.

Voila, the perfect cocktail for media failure has been brewed.

It's the same with this author. Most sportswriters are liberal, even if their readers aren't.

Let's continue in the article:

"NBC even let its own version of white privilege, Billy Bush, defend his bro repeatedly, leaving the normally good-humored weather anchor Al Roker as the one man left willing to hold the line and practice anything resembling journalism.

"He's not the kind that can weave a brilliant tale," Bush said. "That he told this story so mellifluously makes me think he could not have invented the whole thing."

The Today Show host Matt Lauer also couldn't resist giving Lochte an initial pass. It wasn't until the story completely unraveled that NBC scrambled its jets and changed tactics.

"I don't think the details of the story have changed all that much," Lauer said, even as the details of Lochte's escapade were rapidly falling apart. "There are a couple of details that have changed. But the basics of the story have remained the same." 

Here's what's remarkable about this article's criticism of Billy Bush and Matt Lauer at NBC -- WHAT THEY SAID WAS TRUE. 

Bush said, "he could not have invented the whole thing."

Lochte didn't invent the whole thing. In fact, the vast majority of his story was true. And why in the world is Billy Bush NBC's "own version of white privilege."

I have no idea what this insult even means. 

Isn't Billy Bush just a freaking entertainment reporter on Access Hollywood? He's as apolitical as you can get. AND HE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG. 

"I don't think the details of the story have changed all that much," Lauer said. "There are a couple of details that have changed. But the basics of the story have remained the same."

THIS IS 100% true too! Every detail in Lochte's story wasn't perfect -- newsflash, no witness story is ever perfect -- but "the basics of the story have remained the same," since Lochte started telling them.  

Again, this isn't evidence of privilege, this is evidence of NBC's host's opinions being correct. 

If you want to criticize Matt Lauer it should be for calling Ryan Lochte and the swimmers being held under gunpoint and forced to pay money a "negotiated settlement."

A negotiated settlement?

Since when has money that you pay under gunpoint ever been anything other than a robbery?

Yet, that's the tone Lauer took on Saturday night after he'd been getting ripped online for white privilege. 

That was the most absurd part of Lauer's coverage by far, when he decided he'd better rip Lochte to make sure he wasn't called racist. 

Remarkably, listening to the critics actually made Lauer a worse journalist. 

"Try to imagine, just for a second, what the world's reaction would be if a black athlete got drunk, urinated in public, destroyed some property, then concocted a story in which he bravely stood up to someone with a gun who was attempting to rob him and his friends."

Ah, yes, the "A Time To Kill Moment" much favored by liberals who love to make the change the color argument at every opportunity. 

"Now close your eyes, what if he was white?," the perfect John Grisham mic drop trial summation. 

Free Carl Lee!

First, Lochte didn't "concoct a story." Lochte and his friends were robbed after peeing outside and ripping a cheap advertisement off a wall. If four NBA players had done this exact same thing, black lives matter would have lost their minds over the Brazilian guards drawing guns on the players and demanding payment. What would have been their first comment?

"If four white swimmers had done these exact same things, do you think the police would have drawn their guns and robbed them? Of course not. This is racism! Black lives matter!"

And, guess what, every white media member in Rio would have written about the "ugly racism" descending on the Olympic games. That would have been the number one story of the Olympics, black athletes unsafe to go anywhere in the world, the "fact" that black lives don't matter anywhere in the world.  

Since, thankfully, no black athletes were robbed in Rio we don't have a perfect analogy to white swimmers and NBA players. But we can compare two Olympians who have been in the news recently: black NBA player Draymond Green with white swimmer Ryan Lochte. 

Just before he left for Rio, Draymond Green was arrested and booked for assault. Just before the games started Green then snapchatted a picture of his erect penis to everyone who followed him. Oh, and he also spent the entire NBA playoffs kicking players in the groin and was suspended for calling the best basketball player in the world a bitch, a trash talking move that might well have cost his team an NBA championship. 

For all that, how many endorsement dollars has Draymond Green lost?

Zero, not one dollar. 

Compare that with Lochte. 

As a result of peeing outside, being robbed, and pulling down an advertisement off the side of a building, Ryan Lochte has been publicly ridiculed in a way few American athletes ever have for non-felonious behavior; he has lost $1 million in endorsement income due to his four sponsors publicly canceling his contracts, and three American swimmers were held hostage in Brazil after their passports were seized.  

Boy, when you compare these two stories it sure seems like Draymond Green has some serious black privilege, doesn't it?

"As has been mentioned, Lochte is the same age as Carmelo Anthony, Team USA gold-medal winner. But Lochte is a year older than basketball great LeBron James. Try to imagine NBC's personalities twisting themselves into a pretzel in defense of James and referring to him as a kid. The definition of privilege, in this era of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner weren't given a scrap of the benefit of doubt, is Lochte and his USA swimming teammates knowing they could buy their way out of trouble in the middle of the night and still cast themselves as both victims and heroes."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. 

Lochte peed on the side of a building and you're comparing him to Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner?

Give me a fucking break. 

Can you try harder?

What's more "Lochte and his USA swimming teammates kn(ew) they could buy their way out of trouble," writes the "author."


You don't buy your way out of trouble when you are robbed at gunpoint, someone points a gun at you and commits a felony. Buying your way out of trouble is what Kobe Bryant did when he was charged with rape. You remember Kobe, right? The guy who the city of Los Angeles just named the day 8/24 after. 

Yes, Lochte is 32, but he's single and has no children. That's more important than his age. You can't compare married athletes with kids with single guys without kids, no matter their ages.  

The media and the public laughed off a story about four unmarried NBA players going to a Rio brothel during the Olympics.

The fact is, if you're single and you don't have kids you can still act like an idiot without much public derision. This is no surprise. Look at your own lives, does your wife give more leniency to the ridiculous things that your single friends do or your married friends?

Lochte is immature. Regardless of his age, this is no surprise. Lochte was also out partying with college-aged kids, the other three US Olympians are all still in college right now. So most of them were, in fact, kids. What's more, NBC didn't call them kids, a US Olympics spokesperson did. Lochte may be 32, but his three peeing compatriots were college kids. 

Of course you don't hear anything about the other three swimmers and their ages.

Because it's easier to attack Lochte.

"(Gabby) Douglas was so shaken by the criticism that she felt compelled to apologize, proof that black athletes constantly have to prove, and then re-prove, their patriotism lest they be subjected to an inquisition on the internet."  

"An inquisition on the Internet."

This is a loaded phrase that sounds substantial but really just boils down to a few trolls said mean things on Twitter. 

There was one negative article in the L.A. Times about Gabby Douglas's body language. That's pretty much the entirety of the media scrum. There were also a few mean Tweets. From this the liberal media has constructed a mountain of racism to support their worldview. 

I have nearly 200,000 followers sending me tens of thousands of Tweets a week and not one of you sent me a Tweet about Gabby Douglas. 

Not one.

This is just like the "everybody hates Cam Newton" narrative that was built based on flimsy evidence -- a couple of letters to the editor about his dancing -- and much desire among liberal race baiters for it to be true. 

The truth is this -- there has never been more opinion in American history. You can find an opinion on anything. The question isn't whether anyone thinks negative things about Gabby Douglas in the world -- of course some people do -- it's whether or not it was a common opinion.

There were a thousand times as many articles defending Gabby Douglas as there ever were attacks on her.

This is a perfect example of liberal media cherrypicking facts to allow them to make the case that they want to make.

Now it's time for the stirring conclusion from ESPN's white mascot.

"I cannot undo some of the horrible things done by people who share my name or my DNA, but that doesn't mean I can't acknowledge that it happened, and attempt to understand how the ripples of those acts still reach this day. Even in sports."

Holy shit. 

Did you really just write an entire column about Ryan Lochte peeing outside in Brazil and tie it to your white guilt over 500 years of American history?

Yes, yes you did. 

But that's not all. 

"This time around, I got to watch the games with my two beautiful daughters, whom I suspect will never want for much. They had the time of their lives dancing and jumping and twirling in our living room pretending to be Simone Biles, and it filled me with more joy than I can ever explain to see them fall so hard for Biles.

Telling them all about their beloved Simone wasn't the easiest conversation to have with a 6-year-old and 4-year-old, but I wanted them to know her story: That she was born into poverty, that her birth mother had to put her in foster care, and that her grandparents adopted her and became her parents. Biles still grew up to be the best gymnast in the room and one of their childhood heroes. This is a hopeful thing, and I hope they will remember it forever."

Message: I am not racist and neither are my children, who like a black athlete.

What the fuck does this even mean: "it filled me with more joy than I can ever explain to see them fall so hard for Biles."

Did you doubt that your six and four year old girls could like a person who wasn't white? That's the only way this sentence makes sense.

In what world would you assume that your six and four year old daughters wouldn't like all the American gymnasts, regardless of their color? Are you raising them racist? Should I be writing an entire column jumping with liberal joy because Patty is my five year old's favorite female Ghostbuster?


My god, this column conclusion is literally the Olympic equivalent of arguing you aren't racist because you have a black friend.

But it's just par for the course when it comes to ESPN's newfound sports message. 

This entire column is so bad and riddled with absurdities that it made my head hurt to read it.

Yet ESPN featured it on its front page because the sports message it sends is important: white people are guilty, especially white men.

Even when, you know, they're not guilty of anything at all. 

But that doesn't matter. 

White guilt, regardless of the facts, is ESPN's new focal point when it comes to opinion, get used to it.

Or do what most of you are already doing when anything other than sports is on, change the channel.  

Written by
Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021. One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines. Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide. Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports. Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.