Friday, January 25, 2019

So Let's Have that Conversation About Covington

A couple from Stacy McCain: ‘Get It First, Get It Right’
The six-word slogan of The Washington Times under the editorship of Wes Pruden should be drilled into the mind of everyone who wants to be taken seriously in the news business. Mister Pruden hated blogs and was not an enthusiast for the concept of “citizen journalism.” (He hated the pretentious word “journalist,” and preferred “newsman.” We might call someone a reporter, an editor, a columnist, but we never used the word “journalist” in the pages of the Times.) Mister Pruden had a low tolerance for many bad practices which are now sadly common in the media, including the kind of rush to judgment that led so many people to denounce the Covington Catholic boys before seeing the full video.

“Get It First, Get It Right” — and you’re doing a disservice to your readers if, in your haste to be first, you’re wrong. When I worked at the Times, we used to laugh at daily corrections page in the Washington Post, which despite their greater prestige (and larger staff) made far more mistakes than we did. You didn’t want to be the guy who was responsible for an error that caused the Times to have to issue a correction, and during my time there we certainly never had anything as embarrassing as the Post‘s Janet Cooke scandal, when a Pulitzer-winning article was proven to be fabricated, or the New York Times‘ Jayson Blair scandal.

Mister Pruden’s old-fashioned attitudes — he was the son of an Arkansas Baptist preacher — were resented by some people in The Washington Times newsroom, but nowadays when we witness the media destroying their own credibility on a daily basis, we could use some Prudenism. . . .
The Covington scandal has shown that the predominant ethos for liberal news outlets is "Get it Out, Make it Left." Another, ‘Their Precious Narrative’
Writing at Instapundit, David Bernstein remarks:
Conor asks why so many on the left get caught up in politically counter-productive overreaction to the Covington kid. A lot of it is revenge fantasy against some obnoxious jerk from middle or high school. The “smirking” Covington kid (or Brett Kavanaugh before him) becomes a stand-in for the hated adolescent alpha, who probably was as bad as they remember. They couldn’t retaliate properly then, so they publicly join a twitter mob that fantasizes about committing violence, while engaging in doxxing designed to effectuate it. Of course, Nick Sandmann was not actually one’s high school tormentor, and getting caught up in this sort of psychological drama is a good way to alienate those who notice the gap between the vitriol and the evidence purportedly justifying it.
This is exactly right. Liberals perceive themselves as fighting on behalf of the underdog — the victim of oppression — and this gives them a sense of moral authority to inflict punishment on those they identify as villains in what Bernstein rightly calls a “psychological drama.”

So long as you never question the categorical classifications of victims and villains, it is very easy to subscribe to what Andrew Breitbart used to sneeringly call “their precious narrative.” I can still hear Andrew’s voice saying that phrase. The Democrat-Media Complex frames events to achieve its partisan objective, constantly reinforcing the belief that everything is about sexism, racism and homophobia, a televised morality play in which Republicans are cast in the role of Satan. . . .
At Althouse, "It just beggars belief that the same liberals who fret about 'micro-aggressions' for 20-somethings were able to see 16-year-olds absorbing the worst racist garbage from religious bigots...". You don't really need to read much more than that. And "As soon as the new view of Sandmann emerged, I said (ask Meade), people need to resist trashing Phillips."
"Both Phillips and Sandmann were ordinary people living private lives in obscurity. They each did something that got them into the spotlight, but neither really asked or was at all prepared to be inspected and judged by millions. We should be charitable toward both of them. Ideally, they would never have been a news story at all. It is the media — mainstream and social — that deserve criticism. . . ."
To which I replied in the comments:
Sorry to be crude, but that's just bullshit. Phillips was there praying to made viral. He's a long time demonstrater at various lefty causes, and if his crowd didn't record the event and publish it, they were pretty happy it happened the way it did. He immediately followed up on his good fortune by trying to invade a mass nearby:

Now Catholic News Agency reports that he and his merry band of righteous dudes tried to invade the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during mass on Saturday.
Noah Berlatsky at the Peacock: Nick Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic, says he was a silent bystander in viral video. But his MAGA hat spoke for him. So a woman with short skirt deserved to be raped? At Just One Minute, Feel Great, Feel The Hate
As to Lessons Learned, it's hardly news that certain stories, especially with Trump bashing, male-bashing, and Christian bashing themes, are catnip to the media and, like cats, they lose their minds. Sometimes they manage to sober up in a day or two, so giving these outrages time to breathe is a good idea. Of course, sometimes they simply move on without owning up to their deplorable instincts. Will anyone "journalist" lose their job over this? Don't be silly.
Twitchy, He SO MAD! NBC op-ed writer FLIPS when called out for claiming that wearing a MAGA hat aligns people with LITERAL Nazis

Patterico: Revisiting the Covington Catholic Situation [Updated]
2. The more this plays out, the more I see Nathan Phillips as a bad actor in this mess. I was at one point willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he may really have been trying to defuse the situation, even if he did so in a ridiculously poor manner, but now it seems almost entirely clear that he is a professional agitator who sought confrontation and was savvy enough to immediately run to the media so that his mendacious side of the story dominated the early narrative.

3. A note on military service. Brotherico (always a pleasure to have him comment) brought some excellent perspective on whether Mr. Phillips can be considered a Vietnam Veteran in comments he made here and here. The upshot is that though Mr. Phillips never saw combat action in Vietnam — or even served “in-country” (i.e. on Vietnamese soil) — because he was in the military during the 1964-75 period of action in Vietnam, he is officially classified by the government as a Vietnam veteran. This is, of course, a separate matter from the instances when Mr. Phillips has led people to believe he was a combat veteran. For another perspective, retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley, who produces YouTube videos exposing stolen valor frauds, especially those who claim to be ex-Special Forces, acknowledges that Mr. Phillips does not seem to have claimed to be a combat veteran, though he seriously doubts that Mr. Phillips ever served as a Recon Ranger.

4. Since this story first broke, the Twitter wars have only escalated. It seems now that we are, typically, hardening into two opposing camps: one which believes that the CC boys are the victims of a coordinated smear job initiated by the obnoxious Black Hebrew group, picked up by Nathan Phillips and his Native American activist buddies, and finally endorsed by a media horde eager to exact a pound of white male Catholic MAGA flesh; and an opposition (maybe even a “Resistance” if you will) which insists that a group of teenage boys attacked both the Black Hebrew group and the Indian chanters because they were flexing their privileged white male conservative Catholic oppressor muscles. This is how we get Donald Trump; this is how we get Elizabeth Warren.

The worst people of all are still the Twitter jockeys who are calling for — or at the very least openly musing about — violence being done against these kids, especially Nicholas Sandmann. Hollywood and other entertainment types seem to be the most likely blue-checks to indulge in this vile practice, suggesting why today’s cultural offerings tend to be so putrid. Because the rationale for wishing violence on a teenager is nearly always expressed as offense at the “smug” look on young Mr. Sandmann’s face, I thought it appropriate to offer this meme floating around the Internet. And, yes, this is a real quote from the book.
John Sexton at Hot Air, Prosecutors: Hundreds Of Threats Made Against Covington High Students. I would say it's unbelievable, but unfortunately it isn't. Put a few blue checks in the pokey to discourage this kind of behavior. The New York Times gives a tongue bath the the Black Israelites, Twitchy‘ MSM makes me sick’: Anyone remember the Covington kids getting this kind of treatment from the NYT? John Sexton at Hot Air on the Black Israelites, There Was A Lot Of Ugly Racism At The Lincoln Memorial Last Friday, But The Media Missed It. The College Fix: Princeton prof: Covington HS kids symbol of ‘white privilege,’ a yearning for 1950s. Fire his ass. PJ Media: SPLC Blames 'Privileged' Covington Catholic Teen for Native American 'Anguish'

Kevin Williamson at NR, Crisis of Citizenship
Let me be direct about this: You people are a bunch of hysterical ninnies, and it is time for you to grow the hell up.

You know who you are. . .
NeoNeo, Covington and the politics of aggressive standing
The starting point for this post was one of NBC’s Savannah Guthrie’s remarks to Nick Sandmann in her recent interview with the teenager:
There’s something aggressive about standing there. Standing your ground. You both stood your ground.
Both? Actually, Nathan Phillips didn’t stand his grand. Guthrie’s remark is typical of the more subtle ways in which the MSM has distorted the story (there are more overt ways as well). Phillips voluntarily walked up to Sandmann and got a few inches from him, beating a drum. That’s moving towards someone to invade that person’s space, both physical and aural.

The person whose space is invaded then has a choice of what to do. What are the choices? Let’s see. . . 
Actually a pretty good article at Da Atlantic by Caitlin Flanagan, The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story After going through the long and fairly straight facts of how the ruckus arose, and how it was reported, she concluded.
. . . At 8:30 yesterday morning, as I was typing this essay, The New York Times emailed me. The subject line was “Ethics Reminders for Freelance Journalists.” (I have occasionally published essays and reviews in the Times). It informed me, inter alia, that the Times expected all of its journalists, both freelance and staff, “to protect the integrity and credibility of Times journalism.” This meant, in part, safeguarding the Times’ “reputation for fairness and impartiality.”

I am prompted to issue my own ethics reminders for The New York Times. Here they are: You were partly responsible for the election of Trump because you are the most influential newspaper in the country, and you are not fair or impartial. Millions of Americans believe you hate them and that you will casually harm them. Two years ago, they fought back against you, and they won. If Trump wins again, you will once again have played a small but important role in that victory.
Hopefully, this is the last Covington post? I'm sure it will get lost in the shutdown ending noise.

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