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The biggest liar in the world is They Say.

Rumors, rumors everywhere.  Kentucky basketball is off to a slow start, and as predictably as the sun rising, so rise rumors.  Thanks to Mike of the Card Chronicle for pointing this out via his blog.  Mike doesn't like Kentucky, so don't begrudge him his comments, he is entitled to them.  There are more important fish to fry.

I'll start off where almost everything should start -- with a little Shakespeare from King Henry the Fourth, Part II:

Rumor is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures,
And of so easy and so plain a stop
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.
So, as is typically the case when unexpected misfortune befalls a sports program, politician, or famous person, we have rumors swirling everywhere around the Kentucky Wildcats.  Rumors that are becoming a distraction not only to fan bloggers like me, but very likely to the team as well.  Even as I write this, I should be writing about the game tonight with Houston.  But instead, I'm writing about rumors.  "Why," you ask?  I'll tell you.

The rumors began to be whispered back after the shocking Gardner-Webb loss.  At first, we heard a few, and I'm not going to repeat any of them here.  Suffice it to say that they were rumors of dissatisfaction with the new Kentucky coach's methods, and on the heels of that, rumors about a personal life run amok.  Of course, nobody has posted a damning Pearl picture or anything, despite the fact that Gillispie can't go anywhere without being recognized and the proliferation of camera phones.  Suddenly, the fact that Gillsipie hadn't signed a contract became an issue, and rumors grew from there about why that was, some of them nefarious and dastardly.

Now, we see rumors repeated as fact on opposing fan blogs.  I have steadfastly refused to repeat them here, or to allow others to do so.  That is one thing that will never change.  If we resort to rumormongering, we are violating the very spirit of fandom, in my opinion.  You see, rumors are always destructive.  Rumors are absent context, and reject the idea of a presumption that a person's life outside work is their own.  Rumors are worse than the worst imaginings of the Patriot Act's intrusion, because they needn't be the truth -- they only need to be repeated.

It's funny how rumors never seem to appear when things are going well.  Did you ever notice that?  When Kentucky was involved with every high-profile recruit that came down the pike, nobody was repeating rumors.  But now, rumors are everywhere to be found.  Just ask anyone on the street, and they'll tell you they've heard a rumor about the Wildcats or the Kentucky coach, and it won't be that Gillispie is about to get a commitment from some coveted recruit.  More than likely it will be personal, and 100% of the time, it will be negative.

Now, we have a new player among rumor mongers, the respected journalist and former Louisville Courier-Journal columnist Billy Reed.  Billy has written a post today on his blog, who repeats a bunch of rumors he's heard from people that he "trusts and believes."  I do not know Billy Reed personally, and I remember but little of him professionally.  Today Reed repeats several professional rumors and suggests that many of the seedier personal rumors we have all heard endlessly about Gillispie are true.  It seems that everyone is in the rumor business these days.

"Tru," you say, "why are you giving this guy hits by posting a link here?"  Aren't you adding to the problem?"  My response to that is this -- Reality is reality, and hiding from something that is hurtful is not helpful.  We have to look at the world as it is, not as we want it to be.  But before we start infusing new life into the reputation-consuming slime creature that Reed and his ilk are relentlessly feeding, let us consider for a second how it would be if our employers were told this by a respected former journalist:

The rumors are so widespread that if they're not true, I want Barnhart to say so. I want him to stand up in front of the media and state that he is perfectly happy with Coach Gillispie's personal conduct. He doesn't have to address the stories specifically. Just tell the public that the rumors are false and should not be believed, under any circumstances.

How would you feel if someone wrote your boss, not just asking but requiring him to dispel personal rumors about YOU.  Apparently, Reed wouldn't accept a denial from Gillispie -- that would be insufficiently official.  He has to have it from his boss, probably signed in blood by the UK Athletic Administration and the Dalai Lama.  I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, but that is wrong.  It is unethical in my book.  It is a black mark on Mr. Reed and whatever esteem I could have mustered for him must suffer because of this, even if he turns out to be absolutely right.  This is a missive from a man who feels entitled to demand whatever information he wants, not from the subject of his inquiry, but from a third party, Mitch Barnhart, who has no real reason to know what is going on in the personal life of the coach.  That's why they call it a "personal" life.  Is this an example of journalistic ethics?  If so, I want no part of it.

So take a good lesson from this, ladies and gentlemen.  What you have here is a case of "where there's a rumor of smoke, there must be fire, so let's get the fire department and put it out whether it exists or not."  Reed tells us essentially that he had already made up his mind about Gillispie before he got here, assuring us that Gillispie "reneged on an agreement" to coach at Arkansas.  Never mind that this was yet another rumor spread by The Loathsome Troll Jeff Goodman (into which further research will get you this), and turned out not to be true, a fact that seems to be of no real importance to Mr. Reed -- why believe the truth when a rumor will serve even better?  Kudos to the Fanhouse bloggers for memorializing this rumor that somehow metastasized into a fact for Reed, and it's debunking.

Rumors.  They're not just for bloggers anymore.

Update [2007-12-18 18:40:41 by Truzenzuzex]:  Chis at Intentional Foul links us (thanks, Chris) and has thoughts of his own.