Is the Media Hating On Gabby Douglas?

by Britni Danielle

As America celebrates the commanding victory the U.S. women’s gymnastics team turned in at the Olympic games, many of us are wondering why the mainstream media isn’t intent on making 16-year-old Gabrielle Douglas happen.

Dubbed “The Flying Squirrel,” Douglas secured her spot on the team by beating out all of her competitors at the U.S. Olympic trials, and yet, throughout the team finals Tuesday night, the commentators kept remarking on how uncertain everyone was about her skills.

Could she deliver a consistent performance?

She’s a strong gymnast, but…

Some had questioned whether she’d even make the all-around team…

Will she crack under pressure?

Their doubts were apparent. Never mind the teen accounted for a third of her team’s points and competed in all four events that evening. Never mind that she did turn in a commanding performance just days before and secure her spot in the all-around competition, a feat the reigning world champ did not do.

Apparently, none of that mattered because it didn’t quite fit into the narrative the media was working overtime to create.

Jordyn Wieber, their favorite daughter, was out, and Gabby Douglas was in. And some folks just couldn’t handle it.

I thought I was the only one who picked up on the fact that NBC and its commentators just couldn’t let Gabby be great, but apparently many of you caught on as well.

The comments about the media’s insistence to turn Wieber into a sympathetic figure instead of celebrating Douglas and teammate Aly Raisman’s medal bid in the all-around, echoed my sentiments to a tee.

S. was the first to broach the subject:

“I’m more mad at the fact that the media has chosen Jordyn Wieber as the “star” of this years team despite the fact that Gabby Douglas has consistently out scored her AND all of Gabby’s scores, in all four events, has counted towards the US Gold win.”

And from the looks of the responses, others noticed the biased media coverage as well.

Although I know part of the fun of the Olympics is learning the backstory of the athletes, the real beauty of the games is that often times legends are born out of nowhere.

A perfect performance, a hard-fought win, a memorable record, these are the things that should shape who garners the media spotlight, not producers looking to adhere to their now-defunct storylines.

Thankfully for Gabby Douglas, her spirit and her will to win cannot be stopped. Despite the media’s resistance, she will be one of the stars of these Olympic games for years to come.

*Photo via Time magazine

  • Ashlee

    Yes!Not to mention her road to the Olympics should be media-worthy. At least I think so. She left home at 14 to an unknown place, staying with people from a different culture, all to follow her dream. Now that’s the story the media should be focusing on, NOT Ms. Weiber.

  • Jasmine Caldwell

    I swear the white media is something else. I wish more black Americans can get their head out of their asses and come on one accord so we can boast are own people up and not have to rely on the American’s white man approval for any and everything. I hope no pray Gabby brings home the gold today.

  • CurlySue

    I haven’t picked up on this. Every time she’s brought up, they only seem to talk about how versatile, nimble and talented she is. They also waxed ecstatic at her upbeat attitude and fantastic smile. Maybe I missed the diss-fest?

  • kjcristina

    I am so glad someone else picked up on this. I’ve had long conversation with my family that in all of the coverage on the gymnastics, Gabby has been slightly in favor of Wieber. Despite of everything she has done. Especially when Wieber didn’t make the all-around. If it had been the other way around and it was Wieber in and Gabby out, would’ve there been all this talk about changing the rules about three in rather than two? Absolutely not.

    I sincerely hope and pray that she does such a fantastic job that they are forced to recognize the great gymnast that she is.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    THANK GOODNESS it was not just me that noticed this! Even while Gabby was performing they would not shut up about Jordyn. I get the focus on Jordyn, I really do HOWEVER the fact remains that she’s out and Gabby & Aly are in. Let them be great and stop with the Jordyn stroking. Its very annoying how biased the announcers are. I do believe the media is doing a better job at representing Gabby even though in some publications, there will be a picture of Gabby yet in the caption they mention something about Jordyn. I just want Gabby to get that gold so they’ll shut up and she’ll finally get her shine…..although I’m sure they’ll find some way to squeeze Jordyn’s name in there.

  • BossLadyKJ

    I am so glad someone else picked up on this. She has been slighted ever since she came in first for the U.S. trials. “She only made it .300 over Wieber.” So many backhanded comments it should been a tennis match. If it had been the other way around and it had been Wieber in and Gabby out, do you think there would’ve been all this talk about changing the rules about three people in rather than two? Absolutely not.

  • swissmiss261

    Thank you for addressing this. I thought I was the only one noticing this treatment and response toward her success. But this Brave, Bold, Beautiful, Strong Black girl has remained vigiliant and poised through it all. Her will is strong and her spirit is even stronger. Even in her youth, she is to be admired!!!

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    I typically agree with you but are we watching the same Olympics coverage because they stay dick-riding Jordyn lol. I didn’t even know Kayla’s name until 3 days ago! The way they’ve been going on about Jordyn, they should’ve just named the team “Jordyn and the Fantastic Four”.

  • http://gravatar.com/sblazer227 sblazer227

    im in the same boat. in the nbc coverage, all they talked about was how strong and solid she was. wieber was a big story because its a stupid rule that only two can go from each country. i think for all gymnasts they talk about their strengths and they when they are performing they talk about whether they can hit everything they need to hit in front of the judges.

  • isolde3

    @Britni

    Anyone who doesn’t follow the sport in non-Olympic years wouldn’t know why those questions are about Gabby’s consistency are valid and have nothing to do with Jordyn not qualifying for the AA final. Gabby’s always been hit or miss. The NBC commentators know what they’re talking about. You don’t. All you saw were two hit beam routines in THIS competition. You didn’t see the routine at the Pacific Rim Championships earlier this year, or this year’s National championship, the Secret Classic, or even the Olympic trials, or last year’s nationals where she either had major balance breaks on beam or straight fell off the apparatus. One of the reasons behind bringing Kyla Ross to the Olympics was to keep Gabby of the beam in the team final. Everyone who’s been following Gabby’s career for the past two years was holding their breath when they saw the roster Marta had planned for balance beam in the team final with Gabby’s name on it.

    Gabby seems to be peaking right now, and getting her nerves under control. If she can do her normal sets and replicate the performance in the team final, then I don’t see how she can be caught. Let’s focus on that instead of trying to instigate unnecessary drama.

  • CurlySue.

    @Sasha – Yeah, Jordyn is talked about a lot, true. It reminds me of how no matter who’s leading in a golf tournament, they still talk about and cover Tiger’s play. He’s such a powerhouse in the game that they can’t afford to leave him out even if he’s barely competing.

  • CurlySue

    @Clutch – Technical question. How come every time I try to reply to a another commenter, it posts my comment as an individual post?

  • http://britnidanielle.com/ Britni Danielle

    Actually, I’ve been keeping track of the women’s team throughout year (I even mentioned the trials in this piece), but thanks for your assumptions.

    Have a good one.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    Wow, didn’t know all that. Thanks isolde3. All this may be true however for now the fact remains that she’s on the team that won Gold and is now going for the Gold in individuals. I think the focus needs to be on that, not on Jordyn Weiber and what she failed to do.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Not sure. But will report to our web team :)

    Thanks!

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    I love your succinct responses. Though I don’t always agree with what you write, you remain my ultimate favorite writter on this site :)

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Also – are you clicking the “reply” button or just putting “@” – because you have to push the “reply” button underneath the commenters post.

  • 726

    They are being critical, not ‘hating’.

  • mlg

    Not sure if anyone remembers, but they did the same with Dominique Dawes back in 1993 @ at the World Championships, when she beat out teammate Shannon Miller, prior to making the 1996 Olympic team. Personally, I think that some commentators have no clue what to say about “us” when it’s not football, baseball or track, where you see more blacks than in gynastics, speed skating, etc. — I just root for the USA, no matter what & wish they would too.

  • O’Phylia

    Saying something kind of good, then saying, “BUT WILL THIS HAPPEN?” is not critique. It’s sensationalizing. There’s a difference.

  • OSHH

    I have been having that same issue for weeks!

  • OSHH

    I was trying to reply to @Clutch and yet the comment posted as it’s own yet again LOL

  • my_reply

    I don’t think the media is hating on Gabby. They are not giving her or the rest of her teammates as much coverage as they give Jordyn. That is because Jordyn is very good but will not get to compete. They are shocked and upset. I feel sorry for her too but the other girls earned their spot, and everyone needs to get over it. I do feel like NBC spends a lot of time talking about the sob story, but I don’t think they are hating on Gabby. I think you are just trying to bring race into the story just like you did on the Aurora article. They are critiquing her. They did that to all the other girls too. You think it’s hating because she is black.

  • 726

    I still believe they are being critical, and maybe they are making sensationalized comments, BUT, it is still not ‘hating’.

  • 726

    I’ve seem some very vile and hateful comments on this site, but somehow some of my comments are going into moderation. WTF!

  • CurlySue

    2Clutch – I’m putshing “reply” and the Leave a Reply box pops up under the poster. But when I submit, it shows up as its own post.

  • Nadell

    Media hating, critical, less coverage, subjective or biased Gabby Douglas will win her individual gold and then we shall hear what they have to say!!!
    Same as Lebron James – he has his championship now…that feat shuts all critics down!
    So I am just anxiously awaiting her phenomenal performance that takes it all!!!

  • S.

    @isolde, 726, and myreply

    I have been keeping up with lil Ms. Gabby Douglas for a while now so no need to assume otherwise

    From what I know, Gabby has CONSISTENTLY out-scored Wieber in all the apparatuses in the last few events–AT&T American Cup (even though her score didn’t count), the Olympic Trials and now the Team performance at the 2012 Olympic Games.

    They have no right to continue to label her a “headcase” (yes they used that awful word). How many LARGE events must she surpass all her components in before she is viewed as a REAL THREAT and a sturdy performer? If earning a Gold medal in the Olympics for her team doesn’t put some commentator’s minds at ease then I’m not sure winning a Gold medal in the AA final will either!

    Hopefully she can shut them up good and for all tonight!

  • Veronica

    The Crunk Feminist Collective covered the omission of Gabby. Ridiculous coverage from NBC though the BBC has been good about highlighting her contribution.

    http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/olympics-oppression-gabby-douglas-and-smile-politics/

  • Muse

    Gabby just won Gold in the all around individuals!

    Let’s see how NBC plays it out

  • Barbara

    Something is definitely wrong with your posting site. I have to type “over” the site wording; thus, I can’t see some of what I type. and that’s not the only problem.

  • Veronica

    The Crunk Feminist Collective did two great articles about this in the last few days but I’m unable to put the links in the comment box. The articles talked about the glaring omission of Gabby in NBC’s coverage and the focus on her teammates. She has received good coverage here in London though so hopefully NBC and the US media will soon follow suit.

  • Maat

    I think the bigger issue remains is whether or not she will get more media attention from major news magazines and other media outlets on her performance after the Olympics are over, not to mention black magazines(Essence, Jet and Ebony.) If the mainstream media doesn’t want to give her the credit and admiration she derserves then our community should. I would love to see a feature about her in Ebony or Essence but I’m very skeptical of it because she’s in a sport that is not embraced by many African-Americans. We need to do our part about writing great stories about our achievements and not rely on the mainstream media to do it. I’m still waiting on BET to get their news progam back on the air. They missed a great opportunity during the 2008 presidential election in not covering Barak Obama. I think Gabby did an amazing job and she proved to the world that she is a great athlete that has sacrificed a lot to be where she is – she has a very inspiring story.

  • edub

    SPOILER ALERT: Well Gabby just won GOLD! They can’t ignore her any longer! I really like her–she’s quite humble. That goes a long way in my book. I wish her nothing but continued success.

  • The Watcher

    She Lebron’d the critics. The commentators were focused on/discussing everything except for what really mattered and was obvious during the team event…that Gabby was the best gymnast on the floor. Let the “experts” keep worrying about her getting her nerves under control, and let Gabby worry about where to place her individual Gold on the mantle.

  • Beantown26

    Maybe its the city that I live in but Gabby has been getting good press out here. Jorydn was seen as a favorite because she is the reigning champion so of course she is expected to make it. She got a lot of media press for not making it which is expected. Its a big story. From the tv news I was listening to Gabby was expected to make it the entire time. Aly was never in the original two to make it to the all around. Not sure where you are getting your information. McKayla and Kyla do not get as much press as Gabby.

  • LemonNLime

    This poor girl, can she get a break? She is hated on by the media regarding her talent, she is hated on by nobodies because of her hair, seriously it is like she can’t do anything right.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com jn

    And she’s the first Af. American woman to win the all-around! POW!

  • Yb

    http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/update-gabby-douglas-leads-team-usa-to-the-gold/

    Here’s are the other article you’ve mentioned. They’ve provided excellent commentary on the topic.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    Whatever about the media. Gabby is now the overall individual champion! Go Gabby! Get that Gold Gabby!

  • QuestKnowledge

    GABBY SCORED GOLD IN ALL AROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU GO GIRL!!!!! AND THE CAPS ARE NECESSARY :)

  • Willie

    All Americans should be happy. Doesn’t her gold count towards America’s overall gold and medal count— and just the plain overall success for America.!!!

  • edub

    Wow!!! She truly rocks. I am soooo proud of her!!!

  • http://britnidanielle.com/ Britni Danielle

    Thanks for spoiling it for the rest of us lol.

  • Lynn

    Trust me, lots of white fans are wondering why the focus has been on Weiber as well. So excited for GABBY!!!

  • Mademoiselle

    Indeed!

  • Mademoiselle

    Tangent: I think it’s really cool how the author gave a shout out to one of the commenters in this article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/malaikaangel Malaika Angel

    I’m more surprised that people are surprised by the media’s reaction to Gabby’s huge victory. The media gives more attention to whites than blacks. It happened to Venus and Serena and Tiger Woods (even though he’s not black, but a man of color). The media loves to hail their own. It keeps in line with the philosophy that white is superior and black is inferior. They may not say it, but actions speak louder than words.

  • Tonia

    Thank you! My husband says I see racism in everything but I KNEW the NBC commentator was not giving Gabby her props during the team finals. They were so stuck on Jordyn that they couldn’t see the forrest for the trees. Let’s see if she gets a Wheaties box….

  • Cheryl M.

    Thank You! Thank You! Let’s just say that the NBC coverage has been less than fair to this outstanding athlete. Did you noticed how she was edged out of the camera shot when the “team” won the gold? Shame on you NBC! Fox News gave Gabby better coverage that you did!

  • Chloe

    There has been a lack of coverage on Gabby. One of the main problems in the media is that they try to ignore black folks accomplishments. Had Gabby been white, then they would have been talking about her tremendous team performance and how she competed in each and every gymnastic’s exercise, but they did not. Instead, the commentators were talking about Wieber holding the team together despite the fact that Wieber is not even the captain of the gymnastics team and she fumbled a bit on her bar routine. lol

  • Kenzy

    they are doing the same thing to Cullen Jones. I on the west coast so I just watched teh semi final of freestyle swimming and the WHOLE segment they focused on this other american named Erwin and didnt even mention Cullen was in the race until right before it started and even when Cullen tied for first with a brazilian they still did a replay of Erwin and why he didnt win, we see who America truly cares aobut and wants to see as usual

  • http://GayBlackCanada Orville

    I am a Canadian and I am DISGUSTED with NBC’s coverage of Gabrielle Douglas they definitely wanted one of the white American girls to win the all around individual gold.

    One thing people have to remember is some whites don’t like it when a black person WINS and breaksthrough. Gabrielle Douglas kicked the door down and she refused to let negativity get in her way. This girl is incredible!

    I noticed NBC hardly showed Gabrielle’s mother or her family. NBC stinks! The subtle racism is abhorrent and I am glad this website pointed it out!

    The Canadian CTV coverage was much more balanced and fair about Gabrielle.

    However, Gabrielle remained mentally tough and she WON! As Vanessa Williams once said success is the best revenge! I also read on Wall Street Journal this gold medal victory for Gabrielle is huge she’s going to become a millionaire! She’s also doing a lot proving that a black girl can be the BEST in the world due to hard work and determination.

  • 726
  • http://papamatt.blogspot.com SenorAstoria

    White Guy here, and YES, it’s bias bullshit! Great coverage, glad that Clutch is calling this out. She doesn’t fit a “network mold” for hero, and they don’t know what to do with that. The girl is a light, and I hope that my daughter (who is mixed) will idolize Gabby for years to come.

  • mdub

    You missed a lot!

  • http://gravatar.com/basketball45iluvyou ME

    I guess your experts weren’t truly “experts” after all. Now let’s see what they have to say since Gabby conquered all and took the gold.

  • df

    NBC has been fuqqing up for YEARS, it’s run and employed by idiots. They’ve especially messed up during the 2012 olympic coverage and everyone’s really seeing how crappy the network is.

  • df

    not just black but anyone non-white is inferior..

  • http://gravatar.com/solo7532000 solo7532000

    ummm…hmmmm unfortunately you did Cruly… the “dissfest” is blatand and in our faces…

  • http://gravatar.com/solo7532000 solo7532000

    Well, here’s the thing, every performer has had those days where they where not perfect and fell off one apparatus or another…The thing is…she got it in gear and started to perform when she needed to… Just as Weiber and Raisman did when they finally …”Got It” … Fact of the matter is, Gabby Out scored all of them from the Olympic trials to the all around finals…when it “Counted” and the others did not… what does that do for all of you that saw her imperfect performances before now? I mean, You all saw the “Perfect” performances of all the others and they all failed in comparison to Gabby, when the pressure was on and when it counted…Gabby carried this team and delivered and she deserves the accolades shes not getting not the constant second guessing of her skills…She won the Gold Medal…who else on the team outscored her and delivered 1/3 of the total points for the entire team?….oh, that’s right, NO ONE… feel me?

  • Thomas

    That skepticism was completely unwarranted. Gabby HAD already proved herself to be the best. Better, in fact than Wieber.

    “In 2012, Douglas had a huge performance at the American Cup in March. She competed as the US team alternate, so her scores didn’t officially count, but she ended up with the highest total of the day. Had she been an “official” competitor, she would have beaten world all-around gold medalist Wieber. More on Douglas at the 2012 American Cup. ”

    http://gymnastics.about.com/od/athletestowatch/p/Gymnast-Gabrielle-Douglas.htm

  • http://gravatar.com/alm247 ALM

    Gabby is just fine because she’s probably used to being ignored while she is slaying the competition. This is America, and unfortunately this type of treatment of high achieving African Americans is extremely commonplace.

  • lola_z

    @Orville, I COMPLETELY agree… I was not one of those who followed gymnastics for the past 4 yrs so I didn’t really know much about her family and the whole story. I’m more track & field/swimming.
    But they kept showing Jordyn’s mother in the crowd. I was waiting and waiting.. Then they showed a quick shot and back to Jordyn’s mom..
    I am not one to see racism everywhere, but I didn’t get it either.

    They kept showing Jordyn telling Gabby “She can do it”… Saying how “inspirational” Jordyn was.
    When Gabby completed her floor exercise, the first shot was one of Jordyn. Yet during and after Jordyn’s floor exercise, they kept showing her mother and played it again and again..

    SMH.. Sad state of affairs.

    On a side note, I do agree w Curly and everyone who has been complaining about where posts land on this site… Someone needs to do some testing.. :)

  • Joy

    726 I agree. I don’t think the media is hating per say….but I think the people that were tweeting about Gabby’s hair were definitely hating. Gabby was not in a beauty/hair competition….she is/was in a gymnastics competition. The girl has a beautiful smile!!

  • Joy

    The haters are the ones that were commenting on Gabby’s hair

  • BRT

    NBC needs to understand how the public is processing their coverage of Gabby Douglas. I noticed the bias against her immediately, simply because the other coaches were jealous of her abilities. There will be denial that this has nothing to do with racial bias, but is a false sense of superiority among those who fail to see the beauty and talent in all people.

  • Ashley

    omg, i thought i was the only one…

    Those NBC gymnastics commentators are THE most annoying!

    And I kept saying how they stayed, “low key hating” on her the ENTIRE time.

    Why did they not want her to excel?! It’s like if one of the white girls did a shaky routine they would be so sympathetic, but then if Gabby just did one thing a liiitle different they’d starkly say, “she messed up”… it was disgusting really.

    And to think Gabby is THE most American out of them all, look at her name alone Gabrielle Douglas vs Jordyn Raisman… she’s probably a first generation American, smh.

    You would think they’d be cheering on the most American girl of the team, which is Gabby.

    NBC totally botched the gymnastics coverage… racist ass white people, ugh!!!

    Then they kept making crazy CRAZY comments like “Jordyn” brought home the gold with her last routine, etc etc. The team captain clutched the gold??!! Umm…. no. The person with the HIGHEST SCORES all around is the person that brought home the gold and that was hands down without a doubt little miss All-American Gabrielle Douglas.

    White people, smh….. lol…. or you know what I won’t even blame white people, I’ll say NBC Gymnastics commentators… smh. They need to diversify and have at least one black person commenting the gymnastics, or at least someone with a black wife or something, idk…

  • comment

    hmm. I guess this article explains why the media is so focused on her hair in light of her Olympic success. They are trying so hard to divert attention away from her real talent / success story with a silly story about hair that was sparked by a few opinionated tweeters. What else can you expect when the MS media is controlled by insecure white women like lesley arfin lena dunham and co who find it fun to kiki about black women when they think no one is looking.

  • Nikki

    I call it ‘underlying’ racism. It’s very sad, and i expierienced it in europe all through my childhood. It’s very easy just to give up, but I’m so happy she didn’t. She has to be very strong, and she showed all the ignorant commentators her worth. I support her all the way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/janet.ng.1420 Janet Ng

    If the media really hate or are racist towards Gabby, then they would be demanding her to hand the gold medal to they crying Russian Girl because Komova is white and probably thinks that she deserves more sympathy because she was crying.

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