Olympian Kim Rhode Shunned Because She Loves Guns, Trump-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
The media ignored Kim Rhode, a Team USA skeet shooter who has won a medal at a record-setting six Olympic games, because she loves guns and Donald Trump.
Kim Rhode is a decorated Olympian and the first woman to medal at six straight Olympic games — but accusations that the media “shunned” Rhodes because of her personal beliefs are impossible to prove true or false.
First, we’ll start with Rhodes’ Olympic accomplishments. She is a six-time Olympian (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016). Overall, she has won three gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals in skeet shooting. And her Team USA biography states that she is “an honorary lifetime member of the NRA.”
In 2016, Rhode became the first female Olympian to medal in six different Olympic games by winning the bronze medal on August 12th at the Summer Games in Rio. An official Team USA release quotes Rhodes as saying that she would attempt to go for a seventh:
Rhode became the first female Olympian to win a medal in six straight Olympic Games and is tied with Italian luger Armin Zoeggeler, who accomplished the same feat from 1994 to 2014.
“I do love the pressure,” said Rhode. “I do love the competition, but at the same time, I think it’s just standing up there on that podium. It’s addicting. It has me coming back again and again.”
Her bronze in women’s skeet at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Friday marked the fifth continent on which Rhode has won a medal. She defeated Meng Wei of China 7-6 in a shoot-off in the bronze-medal match after both hit 15 of 16 targets.
“It’s amazing,” Rhode said. “I’m just blown away myself.”
With International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in the stands, both missed a shot – first Rhode, then Wei – which let Rhode back in the door. Wei missed, and Rhode pumped her fist quietly and then hugged her coaches.
“I was actually kind of shocked,” Rhode said, “but I think it made for a great final. We’re all Olympians. At this level, we’re all good and she’s an incredible competitor. I knew she would be a tough competitor. I’m sure she’ll be back.”
And so will Rhode. She isn’t finished. Six is not enough.
“I’m going to go again,” Rhode said. “I’m going to try for a seventh. So this hopefully will not be my last. I said before (the competition) win, lose or draw, I’d be coming back again, so hopefully I’ll see everybody in Tokyo.”
And if Los Angeles wins the right to host the 2024 Games, Rhode, who lives in California, said, “I probably have to stick around again. A hometown crowd, it would be amazing. This is my fifth continent, so it’d be great to go full circle back to LA and the United States.”
However, media coverage of Rhode (or lack thereof) quickly sparked controversy. Social media was abuzz with people who claimed that Rhodes had been blacklisted from national coverage because of her support of guns and political beliefs.
Those claims quickly made their way to conservative media outlets, with Allen B. West and Gateway Pundit both publishing reports that the media had silenced Rhode because of her personal beliefs.
We did a quick check and found that Rhode’s historic feat was covered by national media outlets like USA Today, NBC, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, among others.
We also found that NPR carried a lengthy piece on Rhode before the 2016 Olympic games began, which touched on her support of gun rights and criticism of media coverage of her sport:
And as she’s grown older, becoming one of the most decorated sport shooters in the world, she’s become more vocal about the politics of guns.
It wasn’t entirely by choice. Athletes in shooting sports have to be, she says.
“At the London Games, the first question I got asked when I just won a gold medal in the Olympics wasn’t, ‘Tell us what it’s like to represent your country or what’s it like standing on the podium or what does this medal mean to you?'” she says. “It was: ‘Can you comment on Aurora?'” — a reference to the mass shooting in a movie theater that left 12 people dead.
The same has happened in the lead-up to the Rio games. Rhode says she’s been asked to comment on recent mass shootings in Orlando and San Bernardino.
“No other sport in the Olympics gets that,” she says. “They don’t ask the swimmers to comment after somebody drowns.”
Rhode is sympathetic to the victims of gun violence. “It’s heartbreaking,” she says. But she feels like much of the legislation that comes out of mass shootings — especially in California — is ill-conceived.
“We have a lot of bills and legislation that are making it very difficult for people to go out and enjoy that sport that I personally love,” she says.
She points to a recently passed law that will require background checks for ammunition sales (“I go through a lot of ammunition,” she says) and another that will put stricter regulations on lending guns. “How is someone supposed to learn how to shoot if you can’t lend them a gun to try?” she says.
More broadly, Rhode says, she’s frustrated by what she sees as a growing stigma against guns.
“Everything we hear [about guns] on the media and news is nothing positive,” she says. “They don’t talk about the scholarships that kids are getting or the shooting teams around the country where kids are learning things like discipline, respect and teamwork — things they’ll use for the rest of their life.”
Rhode wants more people to hear those positive stories about guns and sees the upcoming Olympics as an opportunity to do just that. By medaling in her sixth consecutive Olympics, Rhode could do something no other U.S. Olympian has accomplished. That would be a positive story.
In the end, claims that the media shunned Rhode because of her support of second amendment rights or her political views can’t be proven true or false. National media outlets covered her historic win at the Rio Summer Games, but it’s easy for critics to argue that she would have or should have received more coverage if she hadn’t previously stumped for guns. That’s why we’re calling this one truth and fiction.