Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#LochteGate Takes Another Turn: May Have Been Robbery After All

Trigger Warning:
Was he telling the truth after all?
The sad, sordid tale of #LochteGate just keeps getting stranger and stranger.  It all started when Ryan Lochte spun a tale of he and his swimming buddies being robbed at a gas station.  Then video surveillance footage surfaced showing-surprise!-there was no robbery and Lochte and his pals were being stereotypical jackass Americans.  Brazil was supremely insulted, and America was embarrassed.  Lochte ended up losing literally all of his sponsorship deals as a result of #LochteGate.
Behold!  Ryan Lochte's Six-Pack of Shame!
Yesterday, however, witnesses began coming forward saying "you know what, Ryan Lochte and his friends actually WERE robbed."  USA Today Sports investigated the incident and released their report yesterday.  Their conclusion? looks a LOT like Lochte and company actually WERE robbed at a gas station by security guards (emphasis added):
"What happened really – it's not even the issue of knocking down and breaking the sign," Deluz said. "It was the attitude of the guys of messing up the place and then wanting to leave without a satisfactory resolution." He said if the men had even said they had no money to pay for the damages but had apologized, he thinks all parties involved would have been understanding.

That does not match the account of Bentz, who said the swimmers were held at gunpoint until they paid.

“I gave them what I had in my wallet, which was a $20 bill, and Jimmy gave them 100 reais, which is about $50 in total. They lowered the guns, and I used hand gestures to ask if it was OK to leave, and they said yes,” he said in his statement.

In the NBC interview that aired Saturday, Lochte said, “It’s how you want to make it look like. Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion or us just paying for the damages. Like, we don’t know. All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.’’

Some local observers following the drama have begun to question the police's quick characterization of the story as a false police report lodged by the swimmers to cover up acts of vandalism or possibly calm a female romantic interest who would be angry about their night of partying.

João Batista Damasceno, a Rio judge, does not discard the possibility that the guards' actions could be rightly interpreted as a robbery.
 It's worth noting that one of the swimmers, Jimmy Feigan, was forced to "donate" $11,000 to a "charity" before he was allowed to leave Brazil.  I don't know about you, but that smacks of a shakedown to me.  It sounds like the kind of resolution you'd get after a conversation that starts with "we won't throw you in a third-world prison if you give us some money."

Of course none of this is going to alter the public's opinion of Ryan Lochte one bit.  Nor will it bring back his sponsors.  The media had their narrative within 24 hours of the whole #LochteGate incident.  That narrative was "privileged American swimmer predictably acts like an asshole and embarrasses a nation."  Steps were taken to ensure that this narrative stuck in the public's mind.  Hence, Ryan Lochte is now officially damaged goods.  Even if the Brazilian government comes out and says "you know what?  We were wrong, Lochte was robbed, we're sorry."  The sponsors will not come back.  The public's opinion will not change.  Ryan Lochte's career has been destroyed based on what the media determined was a lie.
Kind of like this...
I asked this question a few days ago, but I'll ask it again because it bears repeating.  One American tells a lie-that's later proven correct-and his career is essentially over.  Another American tells multiple, verifiable lies throughout her entire life and she gets to run for president.
If it does, you're part of the problem.

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