Covington Catholic and the betrayal of trust

Journalism is committing suicide.

Jay Leno had a “Headlines” segment on The Tonight Show which exposed hilariously bad grammar or typos in newspaper stories and ads. They were cut out from actual newspapers; you knew the errors were real.

I encounter photos of similar errors in social media memes. But I don’t believe them. I suspect they were photoshopped, that someone thought, “wouldn’t this be hilarious” and manufactured them. I think Fake Mistakes is a real thing.

But I still get duped by other memes. Thinking no one would make this up, I shared this on Facebook:

Turns out, no such horse exists. This was an entry to a photoshop competition.

The same day I shared it, January 19, social media was abuzz with footage of a native American man drumming in front of a crowd of mostly white boys.

Nothing happened. Had there not been any video, it wouldn’t have been news.

But we were told that the boys,from Covington Catholic High School of Park Hills who were at the Jan 18 March for Life in Washington DC, taunted and surrounded the man, Nathan Phillips, who was there for the Indigenous People’s March, with chants of “Build the Wall!” So what was a little bit of weirdness turned into a racial incident.

Many of us couldn’t help but comment. I did:

My retracted Facebook post.

But, the boys never said it. What may look like a scene of intimidation if they had said it, looks more like the mixed bag of reactions which is to be expected in an odd situation.

None of it was newsworthy except that a lie made it news.

While some still blame the boys, and others blame Phillips, and others blame Black Israelite activists who were in the area, I blame none of them because nothing newsworthy happened.

The villains are the first person who lied about the boys saying “Build the Wall!” and the journalists from respected news organizations that spread the lie. The rest of us who condemned the boys are guilty of trusting mainstream news sources.

Fake news happened, and professional, mainstream journalists allowed it to happen. They piled on. How lazy and biased are they?

Christians of a right-wing, authoritarian bent often claim the United States was once a “Christian nation.” If it no longer is, whose fault is that but Christians themselves?

A growing trend is that employers are no longer requiring 4-year college degrees for job applicants. Universities are overpriced and the degree is overvalued. Employers don’t see the necessity of it. If this leads to declines in enrollment, who can universities blame but themselves?

Likewise, if journalism is no longer trusted as in the days of Walter Cronkite’s CBS and Ben Bradlee’s Washington Post, can journalists blame right-wing talk radio? Fox News? The Covington Catholic story is evidence that they have no one to blame but themselves.

It’s one thing to skeptical of social media memes. I shouldn’t have to look at news links with the same grain of salt.


James Leroy Wilson writes from Nebraska. He is the author of Ron Paul is a Nut (And So am I). Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Support through Paypal is greatly appreciated.