Fact Check: ESPN Tweet Omits Context Of Noose In Wallace's NASCAR Stall -- It Was There Before Stall Was Wallace's

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: ESPN Tweet Omits Context Of Noose In Wallace's NASCAR Stall  -- It Was There Before Stall Was Wallace's No Crime

Is the ESPN tweet about "a noose found in Bubba Wallace's stall at Talladega Superspeedway" correct? Yes, but it is missing context that makes it clear the noose's message was not likely intended for Wallace. The tweet is a 2:54 video trailer for an ESPN TV special documentary titled, "E60: Fistful of Steel: The Rise of Bubba Wallace," that includes the incident that took place in June 2020. What appeared to be a noose was found in the Black driver's stall at the racetrack in Alabama. A subsequent investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ruled that the rope tied into a noose had been in the stall since at least October 2019 and "nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned" to the garage spot where it was found. Neither the tweet nor the video mention that the FBI ruled that Wallace was not a target of a hate crime.

The message appeared as a post (archived here) where it was published by ESPN on Twitter on December 14, 2021. It opened:

Last year, a noose was found in Bubba Wallace's stall at Talladega Superspeedway. The next day, the NASCAR community stood with him in unity.

"I was like, 'Holy s---, it's the whole garage.' ... That's when I lost it."

This is what the post looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed Dec 15 18:51:07 2021 UTC)

The video in the tweet includes interviews with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR president Steve Phelps and Desiree Wallace, Bubba Wallace's mother, talking about the June 2020 incident. It also includes footage from the racetrack. However, the tweet does not mention that an FBI investigation ruled that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime as the noose, or garage pull rope that was fashioned like a noose, had been in that still since at least October 2019, nearly a year, and no one had the foreknowledge that Wallace would be given the stall that week for the race.

The FBI released a statement on June 23, 2020, titled, "Joint Statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. Regarding the Noose Found in NASCAR's Bubba Wallace's Garage at Talladega Superspeedway." It explained the results of the investigation:

On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.
The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.
The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation."

NASCAR also released a statement on June 23, 2020:

The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team's arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing."

NASCAR released the image of the noose found in the stall in 2020. The caption read: "Above is the uncropped photo provided by NASCAR of the noose that was found in the garage stall of the No. 43 team and driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday..."