‘The world had been conned because many were all too happy to believe that white male supporters of Donald Trump attending a pro-life rally were monstrous bullies’
12 February 2019
Right now, journalists all around the United States and across the globe are bemoaning the fact that people no longer trust them. Never before in recent history has the relationship between the public and the media been this tenuous, and if you were to ask those in the industry and those on the left, it’s the fault of one man: President Donald Trump.
How could he not be to blame? This is a man of extreme power and influence who has routinely turned the people against the fourth estate by espousing the notion of ‘fake news’ to discredit the efforts of reporters. But if you ask me, the credibility of the press was sketchy way before the election of Trump, and if anything, Trump was just a reaction to the real problem. What killed our trust in the media was the shoddy and biased journalism of, you guessed it, the media.
The incident involving a Native American activist and the boys of Covington Catholic High School is the latest in a long line of stories that were widely botched by news outlets. It was an early Monday morning when I came across reports of what had happened on the other side of the world (for me), which was that a bunch of boys in MAGA hats ganged up on a solitary Native American and taunted him.
I didn’t watch the video—I didn’t have time. I read a few headlines on Twitter and scanned through some articles, and by doing that, it was easy for me to gain the impression that everything being written about this situation was at least a semblance of the truth. Luckily, I didn’t write anything or even talk about it at the time, because when I was actually able to sit down and review this story, I realised that I was once again consuming the narrative spewed out by uninformed pundits and regurgitated across social media.
In reality, that ‘taunting’ I had read about in articles turned out to be little more than a kid standing his ground and smiling in the face of a protestor who was invading his personal space and loudly beating a drum as another individual shouted, ‘white people, go back to Europe where you came from.’ Just imagine the cataclysmic outrage that would’ve followed had these roles been reversed in such a situation, with a white person yelling at a minority to go back to where they came from.
Telling anyone to ‘go back to where they came from’ in a country they were born in and call home is, for all intents and purposes, disgusting.
The world had been conned because many were all too happy to believe that white male supporters of Donald Trump attending a pro-life rally were monstrous bullies. The red MAGA hats they wore were an immediate alert that these people were the enemy, and from there, all it took were left-leaning organisations to abandon journalistic integrity and put the narrative before the truth. Had it worked out as planned, the media would’ve been able to suitably attack key tenets of conservatism in America and in the process paint all conservatives as the bad guy. These kids were white, male, Catholic, anti-abortion, and pro-Trump—everything radical members of the left appear to hate.
By now, retractions have been made and apologies are starting to come out in favour of the Covington Catholic boys, but the damage is pretty much done. These kids will carry this scandal with them for the rest of their lives, and they will remember the time when they were made public enemy no. 1 by trusted news outlets and organisations.
The damage to the media’s reputation can’t be taken back either. It’s clear now that rather than wait for more information to come out or even do some investigating of their own, numerous publications and websites were content on rushing out pieces that vilified a group of high school boys who did little to instigate a confrontation or perpetuate it. As a result, any harm that befalls these kids is at least partially the fault of the news outlets who made them so susceptible to hatred and scrutiny.
You don’t have to be conservative or pro-Trump in the slightest to care about this incident or the people involved. Regardless of your political beliefs, we should agree that the truth is paramount in the world of politics and journalism. We should also be able to agree that social media is not the best way to facilitate the expression of facts and objectivity. Therefore, we must use social media as a tool to become updated on the latest news and information but not grow emotionally attached to what we read—always be willing to wait for the facts. If there is a political slant to an issue or situation, read from a variety of websites and publications to get the best idea of what is really going on.
In a way, it’s sad nowadays that we, the people, must put forward the time and effort to filter out biased sources and search for objective reporting rather than have these things provided to us by once trusted organisations. But if in the process we develop such robust bullshit detectors that we can no longer be tricked by biased reporting or viral media, then so be it. We’ll become better people for it.