The need for the #BeKind movement, which finds its origin in a tragedy endured by the superintendent of the Ralston Public Schools, was never starker than during last week’s media frenzy over a group of high school kids who attended the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.
Remember that old, old, long-forgotten news principle embodied in a piece of old-timer advice? “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
That amusing admonition is a proud statement of the newsman’s creed, which is that nothing is believed, and nothing published, that has not been thoroughly vetted, and demonstrated, to the absolute best of our ability, to be true.
That is a very #BeKind sentiment. It promises the public that we will not lightly place anyone in a bad light and that facts will prevail, even if weighing the facts and waiting for a full picture to materialize causes a story to lose its punch.
That principle was thoroughly abandoned, and not for the first time, when national media outlets last week charged and convicted — one can hardly say tried — a group of boisterous Catholic boys from Kentucky of racism, hatred and bigotry based on a few minutes of camera footage which, over the course of the following 24 hours, proved to be highly misleading to say the least.
If you are reading this then you obviously care about the news, and I will not repeat all the sordid details of this latest example of media predation.
Instead, let us wonder why journalists, who are required to be skeptical even of their mother’s love, would sound five alarms on the basis of a brief video.
A not-unrelated clue may be found in coverage of the March for Life provided by The New York Times, USA Today and CNN, all of whom were ungenerous, deceptive and therefore profoundly revealing of the ideology that shapes their coverage.
USA Today reported that “thousands” of people attended the march. The New York Times also used the word “thousands.” CNN demoted the attendance to “crowds.”
There is a time lapse video of the march on YouTube, which you can find by searching for “time lapse video march for life.” While I am no trained crowd estimator, it is hard not to see half a million people there.
If these news outlets did not actually lie (after all, “thousands” did attend, and there were indeed “crowds”) well, then, they deceived. And they deceived deliberately because newsrooms have been overrun with “progressive” white-collar snobs who long ago tossed the blue-collar commitment to fairness that drew me to this business many years ago.
To such partisans, that group of rambunctious adolescents was a gift from the gods. White, and therefore racist; male and therefore privileged; Catholic, and therefore even more privileged; pro-life and therefore despicable; wearing MAGA hats and therefore Nazi, it was natural for them to pronounce guilt and impose sentence without the semblance of a trial.
These young men were painted with the filthiest of broad brushes, subjected to the manic fury of Twitter mobs, their families threatened with death and ruin, all while the media egged on the maniacs.
Media bullying, like any other kind of bullying, can lead to the sort of tragic outcomes that #BeKind hopes to prevent.
This rush to judgment was profoundly #Unkind, #Unprofessional and #Shameful, and these media louts should knock it off.