The UNC Saga: Anatomy of a media scandal
The following article is from guest author Thomas Eckerman, who received his B.A. degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and his J.D. degree from Tulane University School of Law.
Ever since one of the best sources in journalistic history fell into Sara Ganim’s lap and spoon fed her a Pulitzer for local reporting in the Sandusky scandal, Ganim has employed her unseasoned investigative skills to go whale hunting. Post Sandusky, Ganim’s first target was the University of Notre Dame regarding the Lizzy Seeberg matter. Since I don’t have a dog in the Seeberg fight and to avoid the recent fate of George Will, I will only say that Ganim’s fly-by reporting on the Seeberg matter was flimsy.
The next target of Ganim’s fly-by whale hunting was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ganim, like a heroin addict in search of her next high, was the perfect mark for Mary Willingham. Ganim’s CNN report featuring Willingham was a disgrace to even CNN. Rather than sending Ganim down to Chapel Hill, CNN could have saved money and just sent down a camera and tripod. Frankly, the camera/tripod combo would have asked more questions about the obvious falsehoods Willingham was spewing.
Willingham’s literacy claims about UNC athletes have been independently proven to be unequivocally false by three respected experts. It is nearly impossible to believe that she did not intentionally lie on her IRB application, and about the one paragraph paper she misrepresented on ESPN to be a student athlete’s final paper. The sundry list of her vacillating prevarications is so epic that a lengthy article could be devoted to them. Willingham appears to be a person who makes things up to support her agenda; so serious people do not believe what she has to say. That is why the attorneys in the O’Bannon trial and the U.S. Senate dropped her like a hot potato. Ganim continues to stand behind Willingham primarily through mindless tweets.