Media Controversies Over Death of Kobe Bryant Raises Issues of Racism, Rape, Respect and Premature Reporting  

Basketball player Kobe Bryant, 41, was among nine to die in a California helicopter crash amid foggy conditions. The copter burst into flames in the Calabasas hills, near Los Angeles, on January 26.

In addition to reporting the death of one of basketball’s most beloved and premier players, controversies have sprung up surrounding the reporting itself.

Probably the best known is that of MSNBC anchor Alison Morris, who was reporting on Bryant’s death on the day of its occurrence when she uttered a word that sounded like “nigger”.

She said, “Seems like he was just the kind of athlete, the kind of star that was perfectly cast on the Los Angeles N****rs … Lakers.”

Listen to Morris and see if you can determine what she meant to say.

Morris used Twitter to explain that she had begun to say the [New York] Knicks then corrected mid-word to the [Los Angeles] Lakers:

“Earlier today, while reporting on the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, I unfortunately stuttered on air, combining the names of the Knicks and the Lakers to say ‘Nakers.’ Please know I did not & would NEVER use a racist term. I apologize for the confusion this caused.”

There is a movement afoot, of course, to fire Morris, including a petition on

“On January 26, 2020 the world lost basketball legend & icon, Kobe Bryant. Alison Morris of MSNBC News think its ok to use a racial slur at this period of time!” the petition says. As of press time, 112,860 have signed.

The petition continued: “What she said was not Accident but on PURPOSE because she paused before she said ‘Los Angeles Ni*****’ We need to join together to get her fired because Enough is Enough & we will not tolerate this Racist BS anymore.”

Was it a Freudian slip?  Or an unfortunate confusion of two teams’ names?  Bryant played for the Lakers. Morris works in New York where the Knicks play.  Morris is reportedly not a fan of basketball.

Did Alison Morris decide to sabotage her career?

In response to Morris’ tweet, MSNBC anchor Yasmin Vossoughian tweeted “Completely agree. You don’t know till you are in the heat of breaking news. Mistakes happen, we are human. I too know and work with @AlisonMorrisNOW and she is a kind, hard working professional.”

Ali Velshi, the co-host of MSNBC’s Velshi & Ruhle, also defended Morris. “I know & work daily with @AlisonMorrisNOW. Like all my friends & colleagues, she doesn’t have racial epithets in her vocabulary. In the heat of breaking, emotional news, we fast talkers stumble & combine words, or reach for the wrong word & correct mid-stream. @NBCNewsNow@MSNBC.”

Image result for Wanda Sykes
Wanda Sykes thinks it was a slip of the tongue.

Comedian Wanda Sykes tweeted “When I first heard it, I told my friend, ‘I bet she was about to say Knicks, then tried to cover and said Nakers, but failed miserably. That ‘Knic-‘ was out there. I believe her. #Nakers.” Audiences have different interpretations of what Morris said. Hopefully, she did not use degrading language to describe a legendary basketball team.”

It remains to be seen whether Morris will be fired or suspended. In a world where the benefit of the doubt is given to honest people, Morris would not be punished.

The corporate structure of MSNBC, however, will likely decide based on economics. The station may wait to see if the controversy dies down, if it impacts ratings, or whether Morris becomes a distraction on air.

Few intelligent persons believe Morris meant to say it intentionally, consciously, and not know it would immediately destroy her career.

What is left to determine, if it can be determined, is whether innate racism bubbled up from her subconscious, or if she is simply telling the truth and melded “Knicks” and “Lakers” to utter a sound in the English language that is utterly taboo and requires, if deliberately uttered, immediate punishment.

If I were advising Morris, I might suggest she pen her view of racism and how it might, one day – if centuries in the future – be eradicated, and what that world would look like without necessarily miscegenation, so that the end of racism is internal not external.

She might also gather testimony of friends and supporters, particularly minorities, who would support her claim that she is not a closet racist.

Has anyone come forward with a shred of evidence of Morris’ past racism?  In a left-leaning newsroom, racism, if it exists, would have to be well hidden.  It seems unfair that a woman’s career should be upended by one innocent slip of the tongue.

Unless evidence of previous racism is uncovered, I vote that her life be spared.

LeBron James Instead of Kobe Bryant – They Don’t Look Alike!

Embedded video

In addition to the Morris controversy, the BBC earned some criticism. In reporting Bryant’s death, the BBC used footage of LeBron James on its program BBC News on Ten.

Fans complained virulently, saying the two NBA players do not look alike and faulted the BBC because even if the news editors thought they did look alike, the name “James” was printed on the back of his jersey.
A hue and cry for the firing of the “numerous racist employees [who] made this [news report]” was immediate.
“Who cut this????? BBC news using footage of Lebron James instead of Kobe Bryant in their obit!!!!! IT EVEN SAYS JAMES ON HIS SHIRT” said one critic on social media.

Anchor Reeta Chakrabarti also apologized, as did Paul Royall, editor of BBC News at Six and Ten.

Paul Royall@paulroyall
Naturally it was upsetting to fans to simultaneously learn of Bryant’s death and see another player on screen.  Despite the blunder, which at its worst construct hints of the notion that members of one race – to other races – all look the same – it does not appear anyone is going to be fired, since, by all accounts, this was, as BBC said, “human error.”
At the Washington Post, national political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave after some controversial Tweets.
The Post is purportedly undertaking an investigation into whether her tweets violated the “newsroom’s social media policy.”
Sonmez began her Twitter imbroglio on Sunday by tweeting a link to an April 2016 Daily Beast story, whose headline reads: ‘Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession.'”
Sonmez received intense criticism from Bryant fans. One can well imagine fans grieving over Bryant’s sudden demise did not want a reminder of the most controversial incident of his life, which occurred some 17 years ago.
Back in 2003, Eagle Colorado sheriff deputies arrested Bryant based on a complaint of sexual assault filed by a 19-year-old hotel employee at the The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. The woman accused Bryant of raping her in his hotel room.
Bryant admitted to a sexual encounter but denied the assault allegation.
He said, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
The felony case was dropped after Bryant’s accuser declined to testify. A civil suit was later filed against Bryant by the woman which was settled out of court and included Bryant publicly apologizing to his accuser, though admitting no guilt.
Was it more than indiscreet but morally, objectively wrong to mention a story about the alleged rape within hours of Bryant’s death?
Thousands wrote to and about Sonmez, prompting her to write a follow-up tweet saying, “To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story – which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me. Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling.”

As criticism mounted, Sonmez tweeted, “If your response to a news article is to resort to harassment and intimidation of journalists, you might want to consider that your behavior says more about you than the person you’re targeting.”

A defiant Sonmez took screenshots of her email inbox, which she shared on Twitter, displaying the full names of her threatening critics.

Tracy Grant, managing editor of the Post, told Business Insider that Sonmez was suspended and in a statement said, “The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”

Again, corporate considerations supersede ethics, although it remains unclear if Sonmez was suspended because of her mention of the rape allegation or because she published the email addresses of those who threatened her.

I admire Sonmez’s defiance and personally hope she does not apologize. This falls under freedom of speech and standing your ground.

Yet I would add that Bryant was never convicted and in the eyes of the law and our standards of liberty he died innocent of any criminal wrongdoing.

Should it have been mentioned at the moment of his passing, as people were just learning of his death?


Hold The Presses?

The tabloid news website, TMZ, broke the story of Bryant’s death.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva criticized TMZ for reporting the story before the victim’s families had been notified.

During a press conference, Villanueva declined to confirm the names of the nine passengers until the coroner identified them.

Image result for kobe bryant helicopter

Undersheriff Tim Murakami said of TMZ “I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported the Kobe had passed. I understand getting the scoop but please allow us time to make personal notifications to their loved ones. It’s very cold to hear of the loss via media Breaks my heart.”

This is an excellent question: Should TMZ have waited until the sheriff informed them that the families had been notified?

If they had done so, chances are they would not have scooped the world on this huge story. They are in the highly competitive business of breaking news.

What would you have done?





About the author

Frank Parlato


Click here to post a comment

  • All of my feelings of love and caring, for the nine whose lives were lost and for their families and their friends left behind to try to cope with the pain and sorrow.

    Also, I hope that all who fly will find the ways to learn beforehand when it is the wisest not to fly. Let us all to be able to communicate better about our surroundings and the nearby, impactful conditions of nature. Let’s think it over more and find ways to increase everyone’s safety. Let these beautiful people not to have died in vain.

    • Scott, the #metoo movement and feminism hit the wall over 22 years ago when Liberal Democratic women defended Bill Clinton during his impeachment just because Clinton is pro-abortion.

      • Now YOU are trying to rewrite history like the people who claimed Clifford and Snyder were “married” almost 20 years ago, because marriage between gay people was legalized only a few years ago. The #metoo movement didn’t start until a couple of years ago when the Weinstein case blew up. I don’t think Twitter even existed when Slick Willie placed his cigar in Lewinsky’s crotch and got his semen on her blue dress. The feminazis hit the wall the day they announced themselves, and they still don’t get it.

  • I wonder what the single white guy currently on the team and both of the former Lakers white players think of this.

    I entered the college campus gym one day and seven black football players needed another player to play four on four, so I gladly accepted the offer. Then they all took their shirts off – talk about confusing! I understood, it was too hot for shirts and skins, but it was still confusing.

    The Brits can’t spell “program” right, either. No wonder we had the Revolution, programme?

  • In the Kobe Bryant rape accusation case the young woman declined to testify in the trial and without the alleged victim’s testimony the DA’s office was unable to prosecute.
    That is similar to the alleged molestation of Rhiannon where the alleged victim refused to cooperate in the investigation of Raniere’s alleged sexual misconduct.

  • Racialism is the recognition of the existence of races, and does not imply the idea of ​​superiority of some races over others, as advocated by supremacism, although it usually entails proposals for racial segregation or separatism and ideas about the natural preference of people towards own race, as recent neurological studies point out. In this way, racialism concerns the series of doctrines and ideologies that have been developed from different perspectives based on the idea of ​​the existence of different races in the current human species.

    Main postulates:
    Following the guidelines outlined by Tzvetan Todorov in his work “We and the others”, where the theme of otherness works, the main postulates of Scientific Racism are:

    Existence of races. The human species is made up of different races (negroids, caucasoides, mongoloides, etc.).
    Correlate between the physical and the moral. Culture and behavior are expressions of the race, that is, contrary to what race deniers claim that “race is a socio-cultural construction” (with the absurd conclusion that “natural works are a product of human works “), culture and society are a racial construction (human works are the product of natural works). That there is a relationship between genes and behavior does not deny the ability of education to produce behavioral transformations in humans, something that is clearly obvious, that is, it is not strictly a biological determinism, however, it is established that, In the end, the internal and the genetics always have a greater weight than the exterior and the environment in conditioning the behavior of the individual, the innate thus imposes itself on the acquired.
    Hierarchy. The different races are ordered according to their degree of evolution, where generally the newest occupy the top and the oldest in the base, although there are factors such as racial mixing and hybridization that condition the hierarchy, such as when it arises a new race obtained from the mixture of a more evolved and a less evolved race, the result is that the new race will be in an intermediate range, that is to say less than that of the more evolved race and greater than that of the less evolved race.
    Group action on the individual. The individual is not denied, nor the existence of differences between individuals and personalities, but the individual must act in line with his group, creating cohesion, if he wants the group to survive.

  • Kobe rape or Kobe rough sex?

    Kobe Bryant admitted to police he grabbed her by the neck and held her. He added “I do it all the time with Michelle”. The victim’s neck had bruising. In addition the victim’s vagina had multiple tears.

    To be fair the victim did say the kissing was consensual.

    A one nightstand and Kobe goes hog wild?

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


Discover more from Frank Report

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading