Media’s Silence On UCLA Basketball Players Reveals Double Standard

Jena Greene | Contributor

The three UCLA basketball players who were caught allegedly stealing from a Louis Vuitton in China this week are on their way home this morning, according to the Wall Street Journal.

President Trump reportedly had a conversation with Chinese President Xi about the three players while on his Asia trip.

“What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games,” Trump told the media.

Soon LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were set free.

Other than a quick story here or there, the buzz around these three players has been relatively mum relative to the storm Lochte had to endure. They also haven’t received the wall to wall coverage that, say, Otto Warmbier got after he was detained in North Korea for allegedly stealing a poster.

Remember that infamous Huff Post headline, “North Korea Proves Your White Male Privilege Is Not Universal.”

Who could forget Al Roker’s harsh monologue about Ryan Lochte’s robbery story during the 2016 Rio Olympics? In a heated rant, Roker told Billy Bush, “He left his teammates hanging while he skedaddled. There was no robbery, there was no pull over. He lied.”

“The Undefeated” writer Kevin Van Valkenburg somehow even found a way to blame Billy Bush for the scandal.

“But initially, he faced almost no skepticism for a preposterous story where he cast himself as the Frat Bro version of Jason Bourne. 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,” Van Valkenburg said.

The vindictiveness is palpable.

Lochte urinated on the side of a gas station, and was treated like a war criminal. These three UCLA players allegedly stole from a store, and haven’t gotten a fraction of the coverage.

It would be one thing if the media chastised every unruly American abroad with equal chagrin. But they don’t. There’s been minimal mainstream coverage of the UCLA players. Discussion of their misbehavior has been largely restrained and shrouded outside of niche sports publications.

After wall to wall coverage of Lochte and Warmbier, it seems the media would cover the UCLA players with the same viciousness. But the intrigue seems to have evaporated. Misbehavior abroad is apparently only interesting when the perpetrator is white.

Stealing things and lying about being robbed is wrong, regardless of race. The media should be careful to criticize the double standard of “white privilege” when they cover for 3 basketball players – who happen to be black – with a similar double standard.

If Ryan Lochte is an example of white privilege, what are LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill? The media probably doesn’t want to look in the mirror and really try to answer that question.

Jena Greene

Contributor

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