While the term “fake news” has become politically charged and overused in recent years, there are times when news reports are quite simply false.
One glaring example occurred on Wednesday, when Alabama Media Group’s Leada Gore published an article claiming that the University of Alabama Student Government Association had sent an email out to student organizations threatening to revoke their block seating if they protested President Donald Trump during the Crimson Tide’s upcoming home game against LSU.
One AL(dot)com headline preview for the article read, “UA SGA: Trump protest may cost students seats.”
The full headline at one point read, “Alabama SGA warns groups: Protest Trump during LSU game, risk losing reserved seating.”
As evidence of those pointed assertions, Gore cited an email from a UA SGA official. However, that email did not mention the president whatsoever.
Jason Rothfarb, SGA vice president of student affairs, warned students that extra security will be in and around the student section this upcoming game.
“Any organizations that engage in disruptive behavior during the game will be removed from block seating instantly for the remainder of the season,” he wrote.
Multiple sources directly involved in the UA SGA told Yellowhammer News on Wednesday that the email was referring to a string of fights breaking out in the block seating area in recent Bama home games.
The sources emphasized that the email was a simple reminder ahead of what will be a highly charged game against No. 1 ranked LSU. Student organizations in the block seating area have experienced fights and some individuals pouring drinks on others, and the email was underscoring the need for respectful behavior to maintain the seating, which is a privilege that comes with a basic set of rules to be maintained.
To be clear, the email was not about President Trump nor was it even about the game being on national television or Dixieland Delight.
Yet, Gore explicitly wrote, “The Student Government Association at the University of Alabama is warning groups that protesting President Trump during the Tide’s Saturday game vs. LSU could result in loss of reserved seating for the remainder of the season.”
“Disruptive protests against the president will have consequences, Rothfarb wrote,” Gore alleged.
Rothfarb did not, in fact, write anything about the president or any form of protests.
Despite the facts of the situation, Alabama Media Group’s article has been published for over 1.5 hours as of this writing with no correction.
Other national and in-state media have since run with the assertion, simply reading the headline without delving into the facts.
The UA SGA released a statement at approximately 2:30 p.m. confirming Yellowhammer News’ reporting that the AL(dot)com article is erroneous.
Yellowhammer News will update this story if Alabama Media Group issues a retraction or the University of Alabama releases a statement.
UPDATE: 4:45 p.m.
Alabama Media Group has updated their story, but Gore told Yellowhammer News that a retraction will not be issued.
Instead, a footnote on the article concludes that the story was updated “to clarify Rothfarb referenced disruptions and not protests.”
The footnote/update does not address Gore’s original assertion that the “protests” under scrutiny would be “against the president.”
The update also does not mention that the headline has been changed.
AL(dot)com has not deleted its original tweet, posted over four hours earlier, that still has the original headline and caption reading, “The Alabama SGA warns groups: Protest Trump during the LSU game and risk losing your reserved seating.”
That tweet has been shared by thousands and continues to be spread, including by national pundits and activists such as Jemele Hill.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn