Media coverage of Smollett, Covington proves they need to rediscover their duty to report truth
A survey from last fall performed by Gallup for the Knight Foundation on Indicators of News Media Trust found “Most U.S. adults, including more than nine in 10 Republicans, say they personally have lost trust in the news media in recent years.”
“While at least six in 10 Republicans and conservatives say their decreased trust in the media can be recovered, 39 percent and 36 percent, respectively, say it cannot,” the survey findings said. “In other words, about one-third of those on the political right have lost faith in the media and expect that change to be permanent.”
Interestingly, support for that research came from the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, the latter a George Soros entity, and none of the three known for having anything close to a conservative leaning.
Remember Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the malevolent guilty until proven innocent offensive with which he was bombarded during his SCOTUS confirmation? The sex abuse charges upon which the Kavanaugh attack was based have continued to crumble from their flimsy foundation since.
The media may have moved on, but Kavanaugh’s family likely will be processing the effects of it for some time, if not indefinitely.
Likewise for the Covington Catholic High School students who made the mistake of being white, male Catholics (privileged, misogynistic religious zealots) who traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the March for Life (some of only a thousand or so who showed up to “protest” a woman’s “right to choose”), and who had the audacity to wait where they were told to for their buses while some of the more impudent ones had donned Make America Great Again hats (a clear indicator of blatant racism).
Once more video footage and information came out, the false narrative used to carpet bomb the Covington boys as “racist” “harassers” disintegrated as well, but not before they and their families were viscously maligned, threatened with death, and further flung under the bus by Catholic and pro-life leaders who should have done better in response to the initial skewed, unverified story.
And notice that we’ve been anything but bowled over by media coverage of the findings of an independent investigation ordered by the Diocese of Covington that was released last week further exonerating the students.
Nearly a month later, any imperceptible backtracking by the media from its initial razing of the Covington students has paled in comparison with the supernova-bright spotlight of prejudice it had trained on those young Catholic men.
Contrast the mammoth besmirching of the Covington students in the news with the kid-glove handling of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s alleged assault.
Smollett had reported that he was attacked around 2 a.m. January 29 in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told police two masked men attacked him, shouting racial and homophobic slurs, and that one put a rope around his neck, pouring a liquid on him that smelled like bleach.
There were some questions related to the alleged hate crime from the beginning.
There is no video footage of the alleged attack, despite Chicago having an extensive video surveillance system. Police had released a grainy image of two men who were in the area at the time of the alleged attack.
Two men had been arrested in the Smollett case on Wednesday of last week but were released Friday with police saying new evidence had been discovered. On Monday, TMZ reported that the brothers told police that Smollett staged the attack and they rehearsed it.
Investigators had sought phone records from Smollett and his manager, whom Smollett said he was talking with on the phone when the alleged attack occurred. Police rejected the records the actor provided because they were heavily redacted and insufficient for a criminal investigation.
Additionally, police said Smollett, who has been quite vocal in his disdain for President Donald Trump, reported the attackers had also yelled, "This is MAGA country,” and identified the attackers as white. However, the two men who were arrested are brothers from Nigeria.
Word had been out that authorities might have been looking at other explanations for the alleged incident, but until police released the two Nigerian brothers Friday, queries over the veracity of Smollett’s account had been limited in the news media -- in favor of a narrative centered on purported hate against LGBT-identifying individuals and people of color.
This narrative, of course, has and continues to accept and perpetuate the fabricated claim that Trump supporters harbor this hate by virtue of their support for the president.
Excerpts of Smollett’s first interview since the alleged incident aired Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America, during which host Robin Roberts never referenced the reported attacked as “alleged,” and was markedly sympathetic to Smollett’s story in her demeanor and questioning. Significant focus was given in the interview to Smollett’s reaction to the alleged hate crime and his thoughts on the implications for others identifying as gay.
Conservatives, Catholics and other people of faith, as well as pro-life supporters — all the folks who very often don’t receive such kindly coverage in the media — I’m sure will join me in praying for Smollett’s well-being as his case progresses. No one I know would think of wishing hateful things on someone for their race or their sexual inclinations, let alone be the perpetrator of them.
We’ll pray for Jussie Smollett while we pray that the Covington kids will see justice, if that’s possible, with lawsuits pending over their defamation in the news and on social media.
These prayers go out alongside the hope that the media will one day abandon their bias and rediscover their obligation to the truth.