Investigation: Cadets weren't making white supremacist hand gestures during the Army/Navy game, they were ... playing the circle game

Not only were the hand gestures national news, the mere suspicion that they might have been motivated by racism was considered sufficiently important to warrant airtime on more than one broadcast network’s 30-minute national nightly news program.

West Point looked into it, understandably not wanting bigots in a military that welcomes Americans of all races.

Verdict: They’re not racists. They’re teenagers.

It sounds like it was essentially a joke on the viewer. In the circle game, if you look at the circle, you get an arm punch. The whole country looked.

At least the “offenders” weren’t named by the media, meaning that this episode avoided the depths of suspicion-based smears that the Covington Catholic incident attraced. But there was a lot of hysteria about it on social media during the game; I watched it percolate and spread in real time. That’s doubtless how major media picked up on it too and leaped at it before they were sure there was anything worth leaping at. The Covington fiasco happened the same way: A clip went viral, mostly on the left, and left-leaning reporters who follow like-minded accounts got sucked in. Before you knew it, there was scandal a-brewing. No hard evidence of motive required.

Jerry Dunleavy of the Examiner is pointing to this series of tweets posted the day of the game by Lawrence Scott, the director of player development for Army football. Scott was skeptical from the start:

He was right to believe. Note the passage in the excerpt from the Army report, by the way, citing the fact that there was apparently no racist material on the cadets’ social media accounts that might have supported malign intent. That was a clever way to investigate motive. And it may be the first time in the age of cancel culture that I’ve heard of someone being cleared of suspicion based on what’s on their Twitter account instead of incriminated by it.

Exit question: When did the circle game take off nationally? I know it’s a thing now but I don’t remember it being a thing when I was young.

Update: This guy, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, doesn’t seem all that remorseful for having jumped to conclusions and assumed the worst here.

Update: Hoo boy.

Jazz Shaw May 05, 2021 4:01 PM ET