As Ryan Lochte gets mocked and rebuked by just about every media outlet in the Western world, a curious thing has been happening: People are going around saying Lochte is getting off easy, suggesting that the public reaction to his tale of woe at a Rio convenience store has amounted to a casual “boys will be boys” dismissal.
This is based on a truth, which is that on Thursday Rio spokesman Mario Andrada said everyone needed to give these kids a break, they were just having fun.
No apologies are needed from the athletes. This case they were having fun–training under pressure. I understand they are under investigation. Cannot go much further. Give these kids a break, sometimes we make actions that we later regret. They had fun. They made a mistake. Life goes on.”
So, sure, this idea has been uttered in public, but it was uttered by a PR flack for the Olympics; ripping Mario Andrada is like getting mad at a defense attorney for defending a defendant. This is not to say Lochte doesn’t have his apologists, both online and in the professional media. The Sporting News on Thursday was like, “Lochte lied, so what?” And NBC could fairly be said to have played it soft on Lochte, though it was also on NBC’s air that NBC personality Al Roker called BS on a co-host for doing just that.
Everyone has their own take on the veracity of the stories told by Lochte and by the police in Rio, and their own perspective on severity of the incident. (As far as the authorities in Rio were concerned, it was $10,800 worth of trouble). But it can hardly be said that the North American public is giving Lochte a pass on this.
The Washington Post called him, “the dumbest bell that ever rang.”
The Toronto Star called him, “thick as a whale omelet.”
Jezebel called him a “f—able moron.”
The Los Angeles Times referred to the swimmers as, “entitled American athletes breaking stuff.”
The Miami Herald called Lochte an example of, “the Ugly American.”
Ryan Lochte: The face of American ugliness.
Lochte is a 32-year-old man who ought to know better than to go around peeing on C-stores, and who seems to be as bad a teammate as he is a liar. On these points, the populace is in agreement. As a matter of fact, Lochte’s skewering has reached such a pitch in the United States that newspapers in England, watching from afar, are writing stories about the skewering itself.
Americans have, by consensus, judged Ryan Lochte to be a moron, a liar, and a national embarrassment. That seems appropriate, even if Erin Gloria Ryan still wants to bone him.