I’d like to give a shout-out to the small staff who work with me to find and research stories. Thanks to their professionalism, over the years I’ve been doing newsletters, radio, TV and podcasts, I’ve made it a point to correct as soon as possible anything we get wrong; but we very rarely have to do that. Meanwhile, the so-called “big media” outlets that have forgotten how to vet stories have just suffered two major face-plants in 48 hours.
First, there was all the “impeachment” hysteria over an anti-Trump article on the bottom-feeding website Buzzfeed that special counsel Robert Mueller felt forced to publicly debunk. (I mentioned that it existed but warned readers not to give it credibility.)
With their impeachment hopes dashed and their blatant bias exposed, you’d think the media would be contrite over their utter lack of professionalism. But rather than apologizing to Trump or their readers/viewers, they just felt sorry for themselves. CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin called it “a bad day for the media” and said, “The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the President and they’re willing to lie to do it. And I don’t think that’s true.” (He offered no evidence to back up that last assertion.)
Mediaite.com had to admit that Fox News, which liberals often mock as “Faux News,” was among the few outlets professional enough to be skeptical of the Buzzfeed yarn, which was based on unnamed sources and had a co-author with a history of outrageous fabrications.
But instead of learning from their public humiliation, the very next day, liberal media outlets started salivating like Pavlov’s dog again, when they got another one of those “perfect narrative” stories: a video allegedly showing that a group of white Catholic school teenage boys – in MAGA hats! – at the March For Life!! – had accosted and hurled racist insults at a Native American activist!!!
When you’ve got something that perfect, who needs to find out if there’s another side to it, or if the side you’re reporting is even true? And so we were treated to hours of furious condemnations of those horrible racist teens, with some of the usual Internet hotheads releasing their personal information and threatening them and their families. Some even started a move to contact colleges and bully them into not accepting applicants from their school.
But wait – hold the phone – or maybe, hold up a lot of cell phones. Because it turns out there were a lot of phones recording that incident. And when you saw the entire thing, it didn’t prove the liberal narrative at all. Quite the opposite, in fact…
And yes, there were some vile racist things said. But they were shouted at the Catholic teenagers by some strange people who weren’t part of either group.
As one critic pointed out, maybe the reason liberals always think James O’Keefe’s undercover videos are selectively edited is because that’s what they do.
To their credit, some of the people who jumped to conclusions (including some Republicans) admitted they were wrong and apologized to the boys (after trying to destroy their lives without bothering to fact-check first.) But the Washington Post just couldn’t let it go without reminding us that back in history, the Catholic Church had done bad things to Native Americans…
…which I guess justifies a mob of bullies, on the scene and in the media and cyberspace, attacking a group of innocent kids? Oh, I forgot: they were white, pro-life, Catholic males in MAGA caps, so they deserved to be destroyed even if they didn’t do anything wrong.
The treatment of those young men was absolutely shameful, but so was the treatment of those media outlets’ audiences, in both of these cases. We can hope that this weekend of back-to-back humiliating self-immolations by the media teaches them a lesson, but they may be too far gone for that. I suspect that if a juicy enough fake story appeared right now that cast a bad light on Trump or on Catholics (they’re in the crosshairs because of the belief that Trump will likely nominate Catholic Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg), they would all go tearing off after it without a second thought, like greyhounds chasing a mechanical rabbit.
But if any of them really want to avoid looking like rabidly partisan fools again, I asked my staffers to give them some advice. Here are their suggestions:
1. Take the time to double-check every fact and quote.
2. Use reliable sources, and if it’s a partisan issue, get the story from both sides.
3. If a story sounds too good – or bad – to be true, it’s probably not. And if it so perfectly illustrates a particular partisan narrative that it sounds as if it could have been made up by someone’s propaganda office, it probably was.