The Oklahoman owes guy they defamed $25-million!!!
10:05 AM EST on February 7, 2024
Expect a significant increase in the price of your Oklahoman newspaper subscription in the very near future, grandpa!
In case you missed it, a Muskogee jury recently ruled that The Oklahoman defamed and slandered Scott Sapulpa – the high school basketball announcer it wrongly identified as a racist who said the n-word during a broadcast – and now owes him a cool $25-million for destroying his reputation and making his life a living hell.
In other news, and to quote the great Joe Exotic, “I don’t know how the paper’s going to ever financially recover from this!”
Seriously, $25-million?! At this chapter in the Death of the American Newspaper serial, that’s probably more than the paper makes in revenue in one year!
Obviously, there’s a lot to dissect and unpack regarding the case.
The first being – How do I get The Oklahoman to wrongly identify me as a racist basketball announcer for a couple of hours!?
Admit it – that’s the first thing that popped into your head, too!
Not to minimize the ordeal that Scott Sapulpa went through – I’m sure it sucks to be branded a racist and feel the heat, criticism, and death wishes of the online shaming mob – but I’d gladly accept $25-million in exchange for getting my name and reputation tarnished and drug through the mud on the Internet for a couple of days! You can call me whatever you want for that much money!
Of course, it’s not like Scott Sapulpa woke up this past Tuesday with $25,000,000 in his First Muskogee Bank checking account.
After his attorneys and the federal government get their cut, he’ll be lucky to walk away with $8-million. And that’s even if the verdict holds up. You have to think The Oklahoman and Gannett are going to take their time, appeal the decision, and do whatever they can to get an appeals court to overturn the hometown jury’s generous verdict in favor of the hometown boy.
Although it seems over the top, I think the verdict is more than justified.
As one of the thousands who grabbed a torch, broom, and pitchfork and went after Scott based on The Oklahoman's terrible reporting, I saw what he went through that day.
Not only did Scott endure incredulous and unnecessary online abuse that affected his life and career, but evidence introduced by his attorneys showed just how reckless and callous, and as a result – malicious – The Oklahoman was in handling the story.
According to an internal Microsoft Teams thread that was introduced as evidence, the reporters covering the case – including the primary libelist Cameron Jourdan – seemed to care more about bylines, traffic, and shaming the racist than accurately reporting the story at hand.
You can view the entire thread over at Non Doc – the (irony alert) Gaylord-backed non-profit that was curiously the only local media outlet to cover the case.
Sidenote: That’s kind of interesting, huh? If some psychic medium photographer fails to deliver baby pics on time it’s an all-hands-on-deck story, but if that state’s largest newspaper is ruled to fork over $25-million in a major defamation case, everything’s hush-hush.
If you peruse the Teams thread, you’ll see that a lot of the bad decision-making was egged on and encouraged by a TLO Favorite:
Yep, that’s right! Jenni Carlson played a pivotal role in The Oklahoman being forced to pay $25-million! In a roundabout way, I guess the jury’s verdict also doubles as a $1-million per year karmic payback to the paper for giving Jenni a sports column for 25 years!
Once again, I’d encourage you to check out the entire thread. It provides an inside look at what goes on inside a newsroom, and the rushed and hurried attempt The Oklahoman went through to be first to, uhm, incorrectly name the racist.
The entire document is littered with facepalms and shows the reporting team didn’t seem to comprehend or care that they just defamed a guy.
In fact, hours after the paper removed Sapulpa’s name from the story, Jenni lauded the reporting of Cam Jourdan – the guy who would eventually cost the paper $25 million – and suggested that he be nominated for an award!
Holy shit! Where are we in society today?! Even by Jenni Carlson standards, that could be the coldest of all cold takes. I guess it explains why she always takes the easy way out and writes Captain Obvious sports columns that provide no knowledge or insight or simply attack college football players “for doing everything right.”
That being said, and in all journalistic fairness to Jenni, she did have some wine:
First of all, I wonder if these documents becoming public had anything to do with Jenni choosing to go into exile at Sellout-Crowd. If so, writing into that empty void is probably a fitting form of self-punishment.
Second, I don’t want to be too big of a hypocrite here.
I love clicks (and new subscribers) more than anything. I also enjoy drinking while working. But, I’m the dude with The Lost Ogle! I’m like the anti-journalism quasi-journalism guy who makes dumb jokes and, by the way, apparently gets things right more often than the state’s largest newspaper!
Well, unless I trust their stupid reporting.
Although Jenni’s comments look really dumb in hindsight, the person who has the biggest pile of Jimmy’s Egg on his Face is Cameron Jourdan – the guy who reported Scott Sapulpa was the guy on the audio.
Just like on Twitter, Cameron claimed in the Teams thread that he had it from two different sources that Sapulpa was the guy in the recording, but some of my Ogle Moles who work for The Oklahoman question whether that’s the actual truth. They speculate he may have incorrectly guessed it was Sapulpa through some circumstantial investigation, and then fibbed about getting it verified.
Either way, I guess we’ll never know the true answer to how Jourdan got it so wrong. He was also named in Sapulpa’s lawsuit, but the case against him was dismissed before it went to trial. I have no clue why.
Anyway, I’d like to congratulate Scott on the big verdict win, and wish him the best of luck during what I’m sure will be a tiring and lengthy appeals process. If he somehow gets ownership of The Oklahoman as part of a settlement offer, I’d love to run it for him.
Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.
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