If you’ve spent any amount of time on X (formerly Twitter) in the past few days, you’ve probably come across the fake report that Caleb Williams told the Chicago Bears that he does not want them to select him with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
After stripping away what few failsafes were in place and devaluing the blue checkmark, Elon Musk’s X has become a free-for-all for fake news like this. The fact that the post has received over 10 million views speaks for itself.
Given the time of year for the NFL and college football, the demand to be first on breaking news has led to a few instances of media members falling for fake stories on social media in recent days. Along with many folks initially falling for the Williams post, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo fell for an Andy Reid retirement story on his SiriusXM show Friday. Meanwhile, USA Today fell for a fake Jalen Milroe transfer post.
Count Fox Sports’ Emmanuel Acho as those who fell for the Williams report. Given that he already had some strange takes about the Bears potentially drafting the USC Trojans quarterback, he seemed more than happy to jump on the “news” and discuss it on his TikTok account.
Emmanuel Acho sourcing Wes ?? What happened to the game I loved pic.twitter.com/cKsyER8xCj
— Jay ? (@SmokedByHyatt) January 13, 2024
“This is wild stuff from a college quarterback,” said Acho. “I’ma keep y’all updated.”
Turns out, followers updated Acho on the fact that he was discussing a bogus story. And when he got called out over it, instead of owning up to the error, the FS1 analyst admitted that it didn’t matter if the story was fake so long as he got some engagement out of it.
Acho deleted it lmaooo pic.twitter.com/BcYEJsZsk1
— Carter Donnick (@CDonnick1) January 13, 2024
“In the event it was fake I posted it to the least serious website because no lives are being lost based on that post,” wrote Acho in response to being called out about knowing the story was fake. “Either way, real or fake, the video would garner traction which would increase followers. More followers = larger brand deals.
Acho would later delete that X post and initial TikTok video, though he would clarify that he knew the report was suspect but made the video anyway.
We didn’t do it on the show because it seemed fishy. I made a video on TT where I led by pointing out a pimple on my face lol
If a TT video makes you lose respect for me, then I didn’t have it in the 1st place & that’s fine. Hoping my show gets cancelled is too far. Love & peace pic.twitter.com/1jmoy9c3D4
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) January 13, 2024
“We didn’t do it on the show because it seemed fishy,” wrote Acho on X. “I made a video on TT where I led by pointing out a pimple on my face lol If a TT video makes you lose respect for me, then I didn’t have it in the 1st place & that’s fine. Hoping my show gets cancelled is too far.”
Here’s the thing. As a media member expected to work within the constructs of journalistic integrity, Acho’s argument here is terrible. Sacrificing integrity and truth in the name of clicks is everything that people in the sports media world are constantly pushing back against. It devalues not just your work but the work of your peers.
On the flip side, is Acho just “playing the game” and being brazenly honest about it? He’s essentially spelling out the growth-hacking strategies that so many other people invested in social media growth have done before him. And you can extrapolate his thinking beyond social media as well. How different is it from how Pat McAfee leverages Aaron Rodgers’ conspiracy theories to build interest and audience without suffering any consequences? At the end of the day, if your follower count goes up and everyone is talking about you, what did you lose (aside from integrity that you apparently didn’t care about in the first place)?
All of that said, Acho’s response to his video about the fake report garnered the negative reaction you would expect, especially from media circles.
— Bishop G.D Jakes ⚪️ (@Lil_Dagga) January 13, 2024
Bragging about spreading misinformation in 4k cuz it will lead to brand deals is unhinged to say the least. https://t.co/HSvEVNHFPm
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) January 13, 2024
Having a mass media platform is a privilege. @EmmanuelAcho just admitted to willfully ignoring truth in the pursuit of growing his.
If I ever design a curriculum for media literacy, this will be a shining example of why we’re in an era of mass media misinformation. https://t.co/NhnUnvKyBn
— Joseph Hoyt (@JoeJHoyt) January 13, 2024
This might be one of the most absurd tweets I’ve ever seen from a media person.
Like WHATTTT??? https://t.co/1AG4ioUxKy
— Luke Chaney (@lukechaney247) January 13, 2024
Besides the fact this is just wrong on principle, the fact he actually admitted this is unfathomable https://t.co/F1urDEXZEH
— Tanner Spearman (@tannerspearman) January 13, 2024
Media literacy is at an all-time low
That tweet had 33k likes and almost 10 million views as well ? https://t.co/44IGA8Xpkn
— DaWindyCity Productions (@dwcprodz) January 13, 2024
We’ll see if Acho responds or clarifies himself further.