Wanting it to be true … On Saturday, the Washington Post published a story about an encounter a group of students from Covington (Ky.) Catholic High School had with a longtime Native American activist. That activist, Nathan Phillips, provided a one-sided account of the incident, and the Washington Post ran with it.
From the Post:
A few people in the March for Life crowd began to chant “Build that wall, build that wall,” he said.
“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ ” Phillips recalled. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”
So, he kept drumming and singing, thinking about his wife, Shoshana, who died of bone marrow cancer nearly four years ago, and the various threats that face indigenous communities around the world, he said.
The reaction on social media and by other media outlets was swift. Here’s the archived version of CNN’s coverage. The Roman Catholic diocese where the school is located condemned the students and suggested they could be expelled. A reporter asked for yearbooks from the high school, presumably so she could doxx the students. She later backtracked on publishing the student’s names.
All in all, it was a left-wing feeding frenzy on these kids based on an edited video and the word of an activist who has made at least one similar claim before. A student from the school who wasn’t even there got death threats.
The media saw a group of kids wearing red MAGA hats, assumed they were in the wrong, and set out to destroy them. All because it fit their narrative of racist Trump supporters.
The backtracking … As more information came out, including the full video, it became less likely that these kids initiated an altercation. Instead it started to look like the activist went looking for one. That’s when the media backtracking started.
CNN published a story on Monday titled, “A new video shows a different side of the encounter between a Native American elder and teens in MAGA hats.” Oh wow, you mean basing a narrative on an edited video and still photograph wasn’t a smart thing to do, CNN?
Speaking of CNN, it has updated its original story about the incident with a new title and more information. In that article, there is no editor’s note explaining why and when the changes were made. Recently, CNN.com’s editor-in-chief lamented in a Recode podcast that the media industry needs to “dial up the efforts to be transparent about when we get things wrong or when we change things, why have we done that.”
That advice apparently has not gotten to her staff at CNN.
Besides CNN, a writer from Cincinnati, just across the Ohio river from Covington, writes that she “failed the Covington Catholic Test,” saying that she “hated the maga hats some of the kids were wearing.” She explains how she rushed to judgment without all of the facts.
That’s the problem with the media today. They have a point of view. That point of view is “orange man bad.” They reflexively want to believe anything that buttresses that worldview, even if it means ruining the lives of kids who seem to have been used to advance an agenda.
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Rob Eno is the editor of Blaze Media’s WTF MSM!? newsletter.