Sports commentator wrongly labeled as a racist, wins $25 million in damages against newspaper

An Oklahoma man is $25 million richer after a jury awarded him damages in his libel case against a newspaper that smeared him by wrongly identifying him as the commentator who made racist comments during a broadcast of a high school girl’s basketball game.

On Monday, the Muskogee County jury awarded Scott Sapulpa $5 million in damages with an additional eye-popping $20 million in punitive damages in his defamation lawsuit against The Oklahoman.

Sapulpa was joined by fellow announcer Matt Rowan at the 2021 Midwest City High School and Norman High School when the teams took a knee during the national anthem, angering Rowan who was caught on a hot mic referring to the black players as “f**king n***ers” a highly offensive rant that was falsely attributed to him by Oklahoma’s largest newspaper.

“They’re kneeling? F**king n***ers. I hope Norman gets their ass kicked. F**k them. I hope they lose. They’re gonna kneel like that?” Rowan is heard saying, as the other man asks, “Are you serious?”

“F**k them. I hope they lose. Come on Midwest City. They’re going to kneel like that? Hell with them. They even saluting the flag? Some of them aren’t. F**king n***ers!” Rowan said, apparently not realizing that he was live. He would later blame the outburst on his diabetes.

But The Oklahoman instead reported that the racially-charged diatribe was made by Sapulpa, a sloppy and now very costly piece of misreporting.

“We’re just so happy for Scott,” said Sapulpa’s lawyer Michael Barkett. “Hopefully this will vindicate his name.”

The massive sum seems to be yet another sign that the public has had it with the establishment media, an industry that has degenerated into a fake news factory and left-wing smear machine that specializes in stirring up racial animosity that benefits the Democratic party and its allies.

“Their entire culture, we’ve seen in this case, is profits over people,” Barkett argued in court, according to the Daily Mail. “Their power is what blinds them from telling the truth. They think they can get away with it.”

“Newspapers are made up of people, and people make mistakes,” said Bob Nelon who was representing Gannett, the newspaper giant that owns The Oklahoman. “Mistakes happen. Gannett is made up of people — over 11,000 people. When you punish Gannett, you’re punishing all those small-town newspaper editors.”

Nelon noted that the paper quickly corrected its mistake.

“Sapulpa, once a respected teacher and coach, faced a barrage of threats, hate calls and messages after the story was published and picked up by other media outlets,” said attorney Cassie Barkett in a news release, saying that he faced “severe consequences” as a result of the paper’s sloppiness.

Gannet said that it would appeal the massive award.

“There was no evidence presented to the jury that The Oklahoman acted with any awareness that what was reported was false or with any intention to harm the plaintiff in this case,” said spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton.

“I have not only embarrassed and disappointed myself I have embarrassed and disappointed my family and my friends,” Rowan said in a statement addressing his racist remarks.

“I will state that I suffer Type 1 Diabetes and during the game my sugar was spiking. While not excusing my remarks it is not unusual when my sugar spikes that I become disoriented and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful,” he added. “I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”

Chris Donaldson

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