I’ve had had it with The Tennessean. I love The Tennessean as a whole. I love Keel Hunt. I adore David Plazas. Ms. Cheap is an icon. And I even still love David Climer, although I hated him most of the time. I don’t like Matt Slovin’s work, never really have. He reminds me of Wes Rucker, an argumentative, patronizing smart ass who seems to have the unspoken belief that a woman shouldn’t be talking to him about sports — it’s a man’s world, and women, particularly women’s sports, are inferior — and that they’re there and you’re here, a lowly reader, so shut up and never question them. Lest you receive the wrath of their condescending push back.
Wes Rucker also seems to have mommy issues masquerading as overzealous insecurities as portrayed through his constant need to display a female by his side on his professional social media account profiles (like he thinks a woman is a trophy or validation of being a man’s man) and his public meltdown on his professional account when a girl leaves him.
I’ve never forgiven him for condescending me when I once inquired about Eric Berry’s well being and I then proceeded to get a lecture on how much he respects Eric Berry — as if me asking how his cancer treatments were going meant that I did not. And a Rucker rant that seemed to read shame on us petty Vol fans that could never care about Eric Berry in the way that he, the big-shot writer, does. Snore!
I do, however, think Wes Rucker does good work on social media. Really good work, actually. Although I think he’s written a few disrespectful and blatantly ridiculous articles which place too much emphasis on Bruce Pearl and too little on Pat Summitt, he’s still a go-to on Twitter. I just think he’s probably, on a personal level, a bit of a prick. I’m willing to overlook the personal shortcomings of reporters, be it the Tennessean (which Rucker is not) or otherwise.
(How’d I get started on that? Resentment + caffeine = sidetracked!)
Anyway… those are generally the major players in covering University of Tennessee athletics. I don’t demand perfection, just professionalism.
However, The Tennessean’s reporting on the University of Tennessee lawsuit has never been more disgusting than when it is done by Anita Wadhwani.
While they are professional enough to use the words “the lawsuit alleges,” what they’re doing is no different than what Shaun King did to Peyton Manning. That is using a one-sided document that is biased in nature in the place of actual facts of the case to present to you, the public, a very one-sided argument.
If I sue you, I’m not going to write up something that makes you look like a good guy.
And The Tennessean is basing their write ups off of those documents and even though they use the word “allege,” it doesn’t stop it from coming across as though they’re presenting it as fact. How could it not when you’re only telling the side of the argument that’s talking with the intention of smearing, and extracting money from, the other! Most people don’t know the ins and outs of the way litigation works — just like my well-educated former friend Shaun King seemed to not and made an ass of himself in the New York Daily News.
Here’s the thing, Tennessean, when you constantly allege that coach Butch Jones called Drae Bowles a traitor to the team for helping a rape victim without presenting the other side of that — or what the defendant’s legal team presents — it’s a little misleading. I don’t want to disclose the number of hours I have in online research for the Jameis Winston case, Holly Bobo’s disappearance, and now the University of Tennessee lawsuit and AJ Johnson allegations, because it would disclose my lack of social life. I’ll just say this, if you’re willing to wade through a lot of online gossip forums, social media pages that come out of that area, and dig through the gossip and the rumors, you can start to put together a little bit of truth. It’s how I knew names in the Holly Bobo situation before there was ever an arrest made. I’m a Snoop Doggy Dogg like that.
Here’s what I know to be true or what I know to be believed by the majority of those associated with the football team in Knoxville, Drae Bowles’ former girlfriend –or as the Tennessean calls her “his friend” — also known as the victim in the rape case against AJ Johnson, was banging AJ Johnson. Just no other way to word that. Not only had she been sleeping with AJ Johnson, which doesn’t make AJ a very good teammate, but she’d allegedly sent him pretty graphic texts and pictures where she talked in detail about their sexual encounters. And AJ being a typical boy, showed everybody else in the locker room. Then a party happened, she got caught having sex with AJ and Michael Williams, which I don’t seem to see anybody taking up for that guy so I’m not sure what happened there, but she got busted. When she did, when she got caught having sex with AJ, she told him that she was raped. Drae, believing her of course, told her that she had to go to the police, and, I believe, he took her there himself. Or called an ambulance for her, something to that effect.
Now, the the team did NOT confront Drae for helping a rape victim, but for being in denial that his woman was sleeping with somebody else and for getting their captain, AJ, arrested and kicked off the football team. Particularly, when they knew what had been going on behind his back. I do believe that Curt Maggitt kicked his ass. That’s being denied by everybody involved now, even Drae. But I do believe that Curt Maggitt roughed him up a bit. However, he kicked his ass for not being able to accept his girlfriend was a hoochie, and for having his captain arrested and removed from the team. And, given everything that’s followed, ruining AJ’s life — or at least his football career.
Now, when the other guys on the team confronted Drae and told him what was going on and he realized what was actually happening, what had ACTUALLY happened, I believe that’s when you have the “cover up” the Tennessean alleges happened — where they claim, as does the lawsuit, that UT is trying to deny that Drae was jumped for helping a rape victim. Drae denies that he was assaulted — although I think that he was. But I believe he denies it because he was presented with other members of the football team that said, “brother we’ve seen the text, she a ho!” And, seeing the texts, he regrets what he’s done — which is why he claims that neither Curt Maggitt or any other teammate ever confronted him.
The Tennessean throws around the words “the lawsuit alleges,” while reporting solely off of documents that go as far as to say Tennessee created a rape culture because they played Little Jon’s “Turn Down for What” and that Lil Jon is known to promote violence toward and disrespect of women. (Not kidding, that’s in the lawsuit.) So this is not an unbiased document, nor are the assertions in them facts! Nor has anything in them ever been proven in court. Writing the words “the lawsuit alleges” does not alleviate the publication of the responsibility of countering those allegations with Tennessee’s stance.
The Tennessean seems to be making a case that they, themselves, believe that Butch Jones actually called Drae “a traitor” to his team for helping a rape victim. He called Drae a traitor to his team for believing that some booty was more important than his brothers. He call Drae a traitor to his team for believing a woman that wasn’t credible and ruining the career of AJ Johnson. And then he apologized for that after he calmed down.
I think that Drae Bowles is an outstanding guy who just made the mistake of believing the wrong girl. Obviously a grand jury found enough evidence to indict AJ Johnson (which is not hard), so his innocence has yet to be determined in a court of law, but her attorneys have also fought to keep social media interaction between her and AJ, as well as phone and text records, inadmissible for the very reason that they would show that she did, in fact, have a relationship with AJ Johnson. Now, that doesn’t mean that a woman can’t be raped by a man that she had a relationship with, but it does give some background into the insight of why Coach Jones and the other players on the team would have felt Drae betrayed the team — and the Tennessean never touches on that.
Von Pearson was also named in the lawsuit, even though DNA cleared Von Pearson when the sample that he gave did not match the DNA recovered from the girl that said he raped her. And the Yemi Makanjoula case (also named in the lawsuit) was a case of Yemi getting involved with a white woman whose mother lost her damn mind when she found out he was dating an African. ( I don’t know for a fact that the woman was white, I just don’t think it’s very hard to figure that out.) The Knoxville Police Department stated publicly that they “had made it very clear to the victim and her mother” that they would not be pressing charges against Yemi, and the University allowed him to transfer to get away from her. NOT to evade rape charges as Anita Wadhwani alleged. As KPD had already made it clear there would be no rape charges before the University of Tennessee allowed him to transfer. A restraining order was issued,
and the KPD singling out the mother — not the victim, not the victim and her family, not the victim and her attorney, but the victim and her mother — tells you that this was never a sexual assault case, it was a domestic case. However, they (the victim and her, ummm, mother) did not allege assault and battery and ask for restraining order, they alleged rape, but wanted a restraining order. (A restraining order is generally not necessary in a rape charge, as that’s pretty much made clear by the judge if he’s granted bail.) It’s pretty apparent the woman caught her daughter laying down with a black man and she couldn’t take it. A black man from Africa and she tried to ruin his career and life. And after Knoxville Police Department investigated, that’s what they found too. That’s why they made it clear to the victim and her mother and to the entire city of Knoxville that no charges would ever be filed against Yemi Makanjoula.
There’s a couple girls that joined the lawsuit and brought forth previously unheard allegations likely because they saw the payday Erica Kinsman received from Florida State. The lawsuit is not over whether or not rape happened, it’s over Title IV and whether or not the university conducted a fair and thorough investigation, and whether they created a safe environment for the women involved, and it’s a tort case — meaning clients, and attorneys, are jumping in and foaming at the mouth for money.
I know that every time a newspaper or media source does its job well, that you feel that they are biased against your team or your candidate. Just like the sign of a good mother is when each one of her children would say that the other is the favorite. So I don’t want to sound like a typical SEC football fan aggravated at anything that I don’t see favorable, but I do think that Ms. Wadhwani has botched the typically front page articles, as well as the attempt to hide her contempt, and I don’t find her “investigative reporting” to be very intuitive or bright. Her work doesn’t read like a journalistic publication to me — it reads more like a woman on a rant. (I should know, that’s my forte — female rants. And it’s also why I’m not a journalist, nor have I ever had a desire to be.)
Particularly when she alleges that the Yemi case was a case of Knoxville allowing a student to transfer to get out of rape charges, when her own paper had reported previously that the Knoxville Police Department made it clear that they would not be pressing any charges against him, and the school allowed him to transfer with well wishes because they believed it would be in his best interest to get away (unspoken: from crazy girl with racist white lady mother!)
It’s easy to look at a document prepared by the plaintiffs attorneys when they’re seeking a nine-figure sum for pain and suffering, emotional damage, and tuition reimbursement and believe the allegations that Tennessee created a rape culture because that’s exactly what that document is intended to do. But now I would like to see the Tennessan defend the University with the same vigor in which they have presented the plaintiff’s side, because although I may be biased as a die-hard Vol for life, I do not think that Anita has done a very good job of hiding her disdain for sexual assault. (Or of the University of Tennessee. Or, more pointedly, for athletes.) And I’m on board with that, hating sexual assault. But you have to ask yourself this, what is the payoff in falsely accusing Joe Citizen of rape. I can’t think of any. That’s why false rape accounts for less than 1% of all reporting. Period. It’s not a thing. Then, ask yourself what is the payoff in falsely accusing a collegiate or professional athlete or a University of rape — or establishing an environment that is conducive to rape — in a tort case. Suddenly, that’s a different answer.
I think Ms. Wadhwani owed it to all the readers of the Tennessean to bear that possibility in mind and proceed as such. And yet it’s quite clear that Ms. Wadhwani has already held court in her head, and even though this is a civil case, not a criminal case, she’s found University of Tennessee guilty on all charges.
A simple tort case will come down to who the jury believes more.
I think that’s the argument being made, or that will be made, is that is it more realistic to believe that every single player on the University of Tennessee football team doesn’t have mothers, doesn’t have sisters, doesn’t have grandmothers, or some, even have daughters themselves, but instead, are monsters who conspired to beat the s*it out of a player just trying to help a rape victim, and their coach willingly went along with it? Or is it more likely that this is something else? An intricately timed litigation, following a settlement reached in the Florida State case with another woman, one who couldn’t prove her claims were even credible enough to warrant an arrest, who was awarded almost a million dollars.
One of the Tennessee Jane Does willingly admits that she never went to the police department because she didn’t want her attacker to get arrested, she just wanted him to get kicked off the football team. That doesn’t sound like an assault, that sounds like a vendetta.
When I was 15 years old, I, myself, had to give a statement to the police department when a former friend and classmate — no I’m not naming names but some of y’all remember — got pregnant, and when her parents found out, she told them that she was raped. The problem with that was that the party that she said she was raped at was one in which we were all in attendance. I had no problem and never thought twice about telling the police the truth, that she was a very willing participant in her own pregnancy, and she never spoke to me again and eventually transferred schools.While I am 99.9% pro- female all the time, I learned a very important lesson then. That while every victim is someone’s daughter, every male is someone’s son too.
Because they are, all cases should be based on the information at our disposal, and women are not incapable of lying. It’s important to remember that. And while false reporting of rape doesn’t really exist, accusations against athletes, collegiate and professional, which are not made in a courtroom so as to receive jail time for the attacker but instead throughout a civil process in pursuit of, not justice, but money in your pocket book, deserve to be treated with the same impartial manner in which The Tennessean seems to be extending to the plaintiffs, and yet, not the alleged attackers in the case — simply because Ms. Wadhwani seems to have an aversion to the sport that they play.
If you had spent your life as a mother raising sons; driving to practice; scrubbing the grass stains out of his pants; trying to purchase jockstraps and athletic equipment , when you don’t know what he’s supposed to do with them, let alone how to show him how to wear them; and your life was dedicated to just raising a boy playing the sport that he loves, and he was playing that that sport in a time where an allegation was enough to get your son’s dream put on hold, get him suspended from the football team, get his name drug through the mud on social media, and have him pronounced guilty by the culture of guilty-until-proven innocent that’s taken us over, you wouldn’t want someone to assume that your son is guilty just because of what he wants to do for a living.
Everyone keeps bringing up the Duke lacrosse case, but there’s also Treon Harris. There’s also the quarterback for LSU that had his career ruined just because the guy who claimed that the QB had assaulted him was a white Marine — turns out it was all a lie. But the New Orleans police department had already proceeded to ruin his career.
I think the most likely scenario with some of the University of Tennessee cases is that in all probability, something did happen to maybe one or two of the girls. And I hope justice is swift and strong for those ladies. I think there’s also a good chance that some of them, particularly their attorneys, are extortionist. Not everything is black and white.
Not even sexual assault cases.
Although The Tennessean would have us believe that they were. I think we owe it to all parties involved — the Jane Does, the players, the university — to wait
to decide what happened until we have a day in court. Instead of basing our reporting off of intentionally one-sided documents which are done so for the purpose of drawing extreme monetary compensation.
And I think the majority of their readers agree with me.
Anyway, this is just my take and interpretation on it. Let me know what you think. Love to hear from you!