- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

There’s a lot of shame to go around in the swirl of the allegations that have resurfaced — this time in great detail — of Peyton Manning’s alleged sexual harassment of a female athletic trainer while quarterback at Tennessee in the 20th century.

Here’s part of the shame — those who have revived the story, reported on extensively by USA Today in 2003, couldn’t care less about the alleged victim.

This isn’t about justice for Jamie Naughright. This is all about Cam Newton and the art of the misdirection defense: So what if my guy looks bad? Look how bad the other guy is.

One story by ESPN wonders why Newton being upset about losing the Super Bowl has received more attention than the charges made in a lawsuit filed by Naughright — 20 years ago.

Here’s another question: Do you think if Newton had won the Super Bowl, and smiled his way through the post-game press conference and declared he was going to Disney World while wearing his Beats headphones and eating Oikos yogurt, that anyone would be reading about nearly 20-year-old allegations?

You think anyone would care about Naughright if Newton had won?

You think Shaun King, the alleged journalist who was delivered a document entitled “Facts of the Case” — even though it was a one-sided document presented by the attorneys for Naughright in opposition to Manning’s lawyers’ motion for a summary judgement — would give a spit about Naughright if Newton hadn’t embarrassed and exposed himself with his juvenile post-game behavior?

“The document, which warrants many more takes and reflections than what I will offer today, is simultaneously shocking, disgusting, painful, and infuriating,” King wrote in the New York Daily News. “It offers us the living, breathing human names and faces of the individuals the American sports machine is willing to mow down in the name of profit and fame.”

If true, it is a very ugly incident that will stain Manning for life. But again, it is a one-sided argument by the accusers — just like the one side that the accusers against King have presented that raise questions of fraud in his dealings as an activist.

King is somehow granted a journalist’s level of credibility in all this — even though he is a former minister, once known as the “Facebook Pastor,” who founded an organization to send money to earthquake victims in Haiti and also founded the Black Lives Matter movement.

His accusers have asked where all the money he raised for some of these groups has gone.

“King collected millions of dollars for everyone from Haitian orphans to the families of black men and children killed by police across America,” The Daily Beast reported in December 2015. “Some of that money went to survivors or victims’ families, but much of the largess either went into failed projects, King’s own pockets, or is unaccounted for.”

That report raised serious, one-sided questions by members of his own movement about King and fraud.

“What is necessary now is a laying out of the books,” it stated. “King can and must open his records, stretching back to his disaster relief efforts for Atlanta and Haiti, for independent inspection. And, when it’s over, he should publish that report online. It’s time to clear the record. Unless and until he does, King’s credibility as a social justice leader of any note hangs in the balance.”

To which King responded, “It’s just [expletive]. People need to understand that failure is not fraud.”

No, this guy doesn’t have an agenda.

Yet, The Sporting News fawns over him as if he is H.L. Mencken.

It described him as “a lightning-rod writer of the New York Daily News more famous for his influence in the realm of racial inequality and police-inflicted violence” and pay him homage in his story about the Manning allegations by describing it as “a breakdown interwoven with first-person language that makes it distinctly King.”

I don’t even recognize this business anymore.

It’s going to get uglier for Manning. He still faces the allegations of his connection to human growth hormone outlined in the Al Jazeera America documentary, in addition to whatever revelations from the sexual harassment charges by Naughright continue to surface, whether proven or not. And, he may be deserved of all that is coming his way — or not.

That doesn’t really matter at this point. There was a victim here, and justice must be served.

The victim they have taken up the cause for, though, is not the athletic trainer from Tennessee. It is Cam Newton.

⦁ Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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