The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Beth McMurtie has an article detailing guidelines for dealing with social media-driven scandals titled What to Do When the Outrage Is Aimed at Your Campus. In this piece McMurtie wants you to know conservative news outlets can’t be trusted.
She begins with an incident at the University of Kansas, where a journalism professor tweeted an incendiary remark about a recent shooting. “The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time let it be YOUR sons and daughters,” the tweet had said. Rather than devote any attention to the outrageous, misguided, and insensitive comment (which should be of concern in an institution of higher education since sensitivity is apparently a high value) McMurtie instead preferred to direct attention to the reports published by conservative outlets. It’s true the right-leaning reports used sensationalism to push the story, and rumors spread among the public after that. McMurtie seems to want to you think U Kansas was some sort of victim. But I have to ask, so what?
Sensationalism and rumor mongering are prime techniques in main stream news! Just watch MSNBC or CNN, or read the New York Times, or listen to NPR and you’ll find innumerable examples of facts or pseudo-facts selectively highlighted or blown out of proportion and rumors embellished and exploited. Generalizations, stereotyping, and misrepresentation are standard tricks of the trade. ABC’s Brian Ross wasn’t concerned with verifying the facts before trying to tie the Tea Party to Aurora shooter James Holmes. Look at the Duke Lacrosse team rape scandal or the Rolling Stone’s retracted article on campus rape. When LIBERAL ideals are at stake (such as social justice issues) exploiting the social media outrage machine and distorting the facts are common practice, even in institutions of higher education. Liberal reporters and news outlets invented and have mastered such techniques, and conservative news outlets learned those lessons by watching the masters at work. It’s only when such tactics target liberal bastions do ideas like professionalism and integrity finally matter to liberals.
Outrageous and dishonest interpretations of conservative comments are common place, and liberal journalists both on campus and in professional news rooms leverage such misinterpretations and exploit rumors for as much mileage as they can get. Now, it would be best if ALL news outlets avoided sensationalism and rumor mongering, misrepresenting situations, or exploiting fears. But there is no reason for left-leaning news outlets to give up their most powerful tools for generating ratings and affecting social change. And as long they keep using such techniques why shouldn’t right-leaning news outlets?
Good for Campus Reform. The Kansas professor who made the outlandish comment should suffer consequences for his offence, which was not likely to happen otherwise given the fact he was promoting a favorite agenda among liberals: gun control. The situation grew out of hand for the U of Kansas, sure, but isn’t that how things work these days? Isn’t that how liberals WANT things to work when they have an agenda (i.e., rape culture, gun control, gay marriage, the war on women, etc.)? Of course it is.
But none of these points are raised in McMurtie’s article. Instead, you’ll find suspicion and contempt for conservative news outlets and a how-to guide on dealing with the social media outrage machine. So remember McMurtie’s guidelines the next time a progressive group wants to eviscerate a conservative individual or dis-invite a controversial speaker on your campus and they try to make a big public stink about it to accomplish their goal.
UPDATE: September 9, 2015 Case in point: the Obama administration has received a lot of heat about the controversial Iran deal. Today the administration called an anti-Iran deal rally a “pro-war event“. Now it’s one thing to accept the administration’s perspective on what the Iran deal will actually accomplish. But it’s a very different thing to purposefully misrepresent (and do so in an asinine way) the perspective of the opposition. Thinking people realize the objections to the Iran deal are legitimate (such as letting Iran manage certain vital aspects of inspections) and that there are legitimate grounds to doubt the deal will accomplish what we’ve been promised it would. The handling of ISIS (and possibly allowing ISIS to form in the first place by prematurely removing America’s military presence from the Iran) and the Affordable Care Act’s questionable results are good examples of failed promises of the Obama administration.
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