Fake News — A Weapon of Mass Destruction

fake-news

Yeah, so this one got to me. By now, you’ve all heard the stories about the kids from Covington, Kentucky and their run-in with a Native American. In case you’ve been vacationing on Mars, let me fill you in with the background story. I don’t like using a lot of videos, because I know it takes time to watch them. This story, however, necessitates it.

On January 18, 2019, a group of high school students from Covington Catholic High School attended the annual March For Life rally in Washington DC. While they were there, they encountered a Native American, Nathan Phillips and a group of his followers. What happened next is where the story all begins.

Covington Catholic (Ky.) High School student Nick Sandmann, seen here standing before Native American activist Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial, says he has received death threats after video of their encounter went viral

This photo is from a video on Twitter that went viral. We’ll talk more about that in a little bit, but in a nutshell , all hell broke loose.

Here’s the video. The video is part of a longer MSNBC piece. They keep replaying the short snippit over and over.

This video is instuctive, as it includes an interview with Nathan Phillips. He presents one of his versions of the encounter, which subsequent videos show to be false. Notice MSNBC made no effort to question anyone else involved, nor review any other videos which were already online.

CNN presented a similar video. Notice how they embellished the story.

Okay, so the initial story portrays Phillips as seeing a group of white kids harassing a group of religious Black men, who were simply being religious. Here are those Black men, part of a group calling themselves the Black Hebrew Israelites. Notice how they call the kids “future school shooters”. They also called them “fags” .

Near the end of this video, you will see Phillips and his entourage come into the scene.  The Israelites see him coming and start saying something like “Here comes Gant, here comes Gant…” I have no idea what that means.

This set the stage.  Three groups, the high school kids, the Israelites, and the Native Americans, all in the same area but reasonably well seperated. The Israelites, who got almost no attention by the media were harassing both of the other two groups.

As Phillips and his group walked between the Israelites and the high school students, the Israelites started yelling that some of the students were wearing Make American Great Again (MAGA) hats (1:17). They (the Israelites) said, “Look at the Make America Great Again hats — look at the hats”

Phillips and his group turned toward the students and walked directly up to them, in direct contradiction of what he said in his interviews. He immediately got within inches of the student in the video and began beating his drum and chanting.

There are many, many videos online now, some quite long, expanding on this incident. This short analysis, however, hits the nail on the head.

Okay, so enough with the videos. You can find all you want on YouTube.  Let’s talk about the implications.

Fake News

So was this fake? No, it actually happened. But what makes it Fake News is the way the media reported it.

How it all started — talia#2020fight:

This is how it all began, a tweet on Twitter.  A tweet went out from this account, ostensibly owned by a California school teacher (later shown to be fake). The Tweet went viral, generating over 2.5 million views and was reTweeted at least 14,400 times.(1) Twitter has suspended the account, and is reportedly conducting an investigation. Stories indicate that some news media reached out to this account for information, but receiving no replies, went with this one minute video as the story. The history of the activity on the account is still online. To get some idea of the madness that errupted from it, follow the link below. (2)

So, relying on a single video from an unknown source on Twitter, the “reporting” of the story began. Did the media seek other videos, some of which were already up on YouTube? Nope. Did the media attempt to investigate what really happened? Nope.  Did the media attempt to interview any of the students? Nope and nope again. The sole initial interview was with Nathan Phillips who presented his story. This was the narrative, and this was what all the major media ran with.

All of them, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, all the major broadcast media. And the print media as well, The New York Times, the Washington Post, all carried essentially the same story based on a one minute long video and an interview with a single participant.

By the next day, the editorials came out, blasting these wicked teenagers for harassing and threatening this Native American Vietnam Veteran (he is not a Vietnam Vet).  The student’s own diocese threw them under the bus, implying expulsions and worse. The mayor of Covington was appalled. Celebrities and Congress members joined in the Twitter fray. Calls to “dox” them and essentially ruin their lives ran amok. There were even death threats against the students and their families. Their school was forced to close after online threats against the students.

The media groundswell became a tidal wave. Don’t believe me? Google a term like “MAGA kid” (the new perjorative for the student in the video). I just did and Google showed 116,000,000 results. Yup; One Hundred Sixteen Million entries on Google and counting. The media went totally nuts; I mean stark raving beserk over this “story”.

Why? Indeed why?

The Red Hats

So what caused all this to begin with? Demonstrations often have counter-demonstrations, but usually those involved are debating two sides of an issue. This was not the case here.

The students were in Washington to particpate in the annual March For Life rally, a pro-life/anti-abortion rally that has been taking place every year since 1975. Phillips and his people were there for the Indigenous Peoples March, a new event, which had no connection whatsoever to the pro-life event. By any logic, the two groups should not likely have even crossed paths, much less conflicted. What brought on the collision?MAGA hat

Some of the students were wearing Make American Great Hats. The Hebrew Israelites pointed this out to Phillips as he moved toward the students.  Was that his reason for getting up in their faces? Maybe, maybe not, but it was clearly the reason the media jumped on this and made a non-story into a national issue.

The optics were perfect for the media. A young, white, MAGA hat wearing male, “smirking” at an authentic Native American “elder” (He’s 64, by the way), indigenous peoples activist, and “keeper of a sacred pipe”, whatever the hell that means.  The optics were perfect, the video vague; a perfect chance — Get Donald Trump!

Yeah, that’s what it comes down to, those red hats. Absent the hats, the story still would have run, but without “legs”. Add the hats, and it was the anti-Trump media Trifecta: Pro-life white toxic racist boys wearing facist Trump hats harassing a poor Native American.  Bingo!

This was the perfect target for the Social Justice Warriors, and the media became their quite willing accomplices.

Madness. Mindless madness

The story is still playing out as I write this, although it has waned. The media suffers from chronic ADHD, and has to move on to another “story”.  One of the results of this is the families of the students may file a few lawsuits for libel and defamation of character against minors. I hope they do, and I hope they win.

It would have been hard to believe such insanity could exist only a few short years ago. Journalists once enjoyed respect, and were believed. It was expected that they sourced their stories and checked their facts.

I’ve been a newspaper reporter ( before they became “journalists”). Back in the 70’s and early 80’s I had editors who would castrate a reporter who got his facts wrong. Hell, we even doubled fact-checked obituaries.  It was important to get the story right. It meant something; your reputation and your newspaper’s  depended on it.

Something changed. Now getting it “first” is more important than getting it “right”.  Knee-jerk reporting is the name of the game.  This incident is only the most recent of other giant missteps by the news reporters. Similarly, too many news organizations seem to have a political agenda. They have pre-decided who is right and who is wrong. They have taken sides, especially in the political arena. The notion that any given news operation is objective seems less true today.

Many people now believe that they cannot trust the media any longer. They think the news has become filled with propaganda, trying to advance a viewpoint rather than seeking the truth.

Incidents like this suggest those people are right.

 

(1) Twitter Suspends Account… CNN Business

(2) Twitter Thalia#2020fight — thread

 

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