The backlash against New York Times sportswriter Jere Longman's vicious attack on U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones continued after her events. Jones, who narrowly missed a medal in her final competition on Tuesday, went on NBC's Today show to respond to a Times story that trashed her as a "vixen, virgin, victim," telling co-host Savannah Guthrie: "...it was two days before I competed. And then the fact that it was from a U.S. media....they should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes, and instead they just ripped me to shreds....they just tore me apart, it was heartbreaking."
The MRC's Kyle Drennen reported Jones' reaction Wednesday to being viciously attacked on the front of the paper's Sunday sports section:
Beginning to tear up, Jones continued: "...they need to do their research, called me the Anna Kournikova of track...I'm the American record holder indoors...just because I don't boast about these things, I don't think I should be ripped apart by media....it's just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I'm already so brokenhearted as it is."
A partial transcript of Guthrie's August 8 exchange with Jones:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: You mentioned you've been dealing with a lot of tough stuff lately. The New York Times had a very tough piece criticizing you for being more image than accomplishment.
LOLO JONES: Yeah.
GUTHRIE: I mean, how hard was that to deal with?
JONES: I think it was crazy, just because it was two days before I competed. And then the fact that it was from a U.S. media. Like, I mean, they should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes, and instead they just ripped me to shreds. And I just thought that that was crazy. Because I work six days a week every day for four years for a 12-second race. And the fact that they just tore me apart, it was heartbreaking. I'm not like – you know, they need to do their research, called me the Anna Kournikova of track. I have the American record holder – I'm the American record holder indoors. I have two world indoor titles. And just because I don't boast about these things, I don't think I should be ripped apart by media. So, I mean, I laid it out there, I fought hard for my country. And it's just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I'm already so brokenhearted as it is.
Times reporter Bill Carter responded indirectly in a post Wednesday evening that referenced Jones' appearance on the Today show without mentioning Longman's name: "For Women at the Olympics, the Spotlight Can Be Harsh."
The American sprinter Lolo Jones may have been speaking for a number of female Olympic athletes on the “Today” show Wednesday morning when she tearfully deplored criticism she had received in American media related to her physical appearance.
Athlon Sports editor Rob Doster at National Review observed:
As is so often the case with cynical media overreach, the Times’s stunt has backfired. Dispassionate observers, even those who might be otherwise inclined to join the Times in deriding Jones’s religion and patriotism, are coming to her defense. Isaac Rauch of the sneering sports website Deadspin offered this observation: “Maybe the media descends upon you if you aggressively push a given narrative, but ultimately every outlet controls what it covers and what it doesn’t. Lolo Jones isn’t an assignment editor.”
No, like Kournikova, Jones is merely a world-class athlete who has failed to check the right boxes to satisfy the Times’s sensibilities.
As this episode has made clear: They might not be champions, but both Jones and Kournikova are far better at their craft than Longman is at his.