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Why The Latest 'Peyton Manning Scandal' Isn't Really A Scandal

| by Nik Bonopartis
Peyton ManningPeyton Manning

Twenty years ago, a male college kid mooned a female athletic trainer in a locker room. Now it's national news.

There haven't been any new developments in the case. Newspapers covered the incident at the time, the issue was settled, and interest waned. The athlete was never accused of doing anything inappropriate afterward.

So why are we hearing about this now? Because the athlete in question is Peyton Manning, and because a serial liar and race-baiter decided to dredge up the accusations in a rambling, incoherent column in the New York Daily News.

Shaun King, the writer behind the column, can't even come up with a good explanation for why he decided to write the 5,500-word column about an incident that took place 20 years ago. At first, King said it was because he was highlighting a racial injustice -- that Super Bowl loser Cam Newton was pilloried in the media for his sulking, petulant post-Super Bowl press conference, while no one was taking Super Bowl winner Manning to task ... over a mooning ... that happened 20 years ago.

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When that explanation didn't fly, King backpedaled, saying he was making a larger point about how black athletes are criticized by the media but white athletes aren't. You know, because the media covered the Ray Rice scandal, but wasn't talking about Manning's mooning incident two decades after the fact. And somehow, in King's world, a decades-old college prank is tantamount to Rice knocking his fiancee unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator like a barbarian dragging the corpse of a wild boar.

To understand the motivation behind bringing up 20-year-old accusations against Manning, you have to understand who King is. A relatively unknown until the Black Lives Matter movement began picking up steam, King capitalized by appointing himself a leader of the movement. Most of his "activism" consisted of arguing with people on Twitter.

As King's star rose, he began rubbing people the wrong way by making increasingly unhinged comments on Twitter, while at the same time questions started popping up about what King did with millions of dollars he'd raised for various charities. As the Daily Beast notes, King can't account for large sums of money he's raised for Haitian orphans or for the families of black victims of police violence. The Daily Caller revealed King raised money for two charities that don't exist; thus, there are no IRS forms to show what King did with the money.

King isn't above flinging ad hominem attacks at his ideological enemies, who are legion, and his standard response to questions about his integrity is argumentative defensiveness. He's also fond of calling his black critics "Uncle Toms."

Because King built his identity as a disenfranchised black man speaking truth to power -- and never hesitated to accuse his critics of racism -- it came as a shock when journalists unearthed his birth certificate and found a white woman and a white man listed as his parents. King, who had long claimed he was black -- and was fond of posting social media photos of himself posing with a black man he identified as his "father" -- finally admitted his parents are white. He refused to answer when CNN's Don Lemon asked him directly about his racial identity, but suggested that his mother could have had sex with a black man, and that the white man listed as his father on his birth certificate might not actually be his father.

No matter, he argued. He considers himself black, which makes him another Rachel Dolezal.

So this new "scandal" involving Manning isn't new; it was already covered by the media in the late '90s. And it was dredged up by a white guy who pretends to be black, all as part of some tantrum because King didn't like the way the media covered the Super Bowl's post-game press conferences.

To be fair, Manning did act inappropriately all those years ago. Regardless of the disputed details, he should have known better, and there's no excuse for what he did to his trainer. She didn't deserve it, and no one deserves to be uncomfortable at their job, especially when it comes to sexual harassment.

As for King's Daily News "expose" on Manning, it's essentially a one-source story that quotes extensively from the victim's deposition while ignoring exculpatory accounts from other people who witnessed the incident.

King has no journalism background, and it shows -- the Daily News would never accept that kind of shoddy, one-sided reporting from any of its news journalists, so why does the paper's "senior criminal justice writer" get a pass for what amounts to a long-winded tantrum?

One word: clicks.

King's original story sits atop the list of the newspaper's most popular pieces, even four days after it was first published. King is basically a troll in a columnist's clothing, a one-man clickbait machine who doesn't have to be coherent or follow basic rules of journalism.

If the Daily News wants to continue employing King, that's fine, but the paper should be honest about what he is: a troll with a paycheck.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Fox Sports, Daily Beast (2), CNN, Daily Caller, New York Daily News (2), Awful Announcing / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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