But the ongoing arguments about whether these kids deserved the opprobrium that landed on them in the first hours after the incident had little to do with any serious disagreements about what was on those videos. All that most people needed to know what they thought was a momentary glance at the misleading excerpts posted on Twitter that showed a young man with a smile and a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap on this head.
This sterile debate in which a group of Catholic and politically conservative teenagers became a national Rorschach test is being blamed on the corrosive impact of social media. But the reason why this became a cause célèbre had everything to do with the baseball cap. If Nicholas Sandmann and his friends were not identified as Trump supporters, then it’s doubtful that, even if they had actually been guilty of mobbing a Native American with a drum, it would have garnered national attention, let alone becoming a story that overshadowed the government shutdown for a few days.
It was because they were supporters of President Donald Trump, and only secondarily because they were attendees at the March for Life, that they were labeled racist thugs harassing Nathan Phillips in much the same manner as Nazis attacking Jews during the Holocaust, as one particularly egregious Internet meme asserted... Many conservatives and even some liberals may think there is still room for a debate about the great issues of the day without involving Trump. That ought to be especially true given his lack of interest in ideology and the inner workings of policy discussions. But it’s hard to think of a single domestic or foreign-policy issue about which the debate has not become one on which Trump’s position has not determined the stances of the participants. The willingness of former conservatives such as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot to switch sides on Iran, Jerusalem, or climate change, issues on which they had once taken strong stands, has illustrated one aspect of Trump Derangement Syndrome. But this trend now extends beyond the few remaining Never Trump stalwarts still in the field... For liberals, Trump has always been not so much a conservative opponent but a threat to democracy, even though their rights and that of a hostile media are still very much intact two years into his presidency. Trump has fielded the most conservative government in memory and, with a few exceptions, adopted stands on social, economic, and foreign-policy issues that conservatives had long held, but it makes no difference to some of his centrist or former conservative opponents. If the realization of long-cherished conservative goals such as tax reform, deregulation, and control of the Supreme Court or even moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem are considered unimportant when compared with his inappropriate behavior and statements, then it’s obvious that the only issue is whether to keep him in the White House or rid the country of the affliction of Trump and his “deplorable” supporters... Covington demonstrated as clearly as anything else that the battle over Trump is not ideological in nature but cultural, that it’s about the president’s perceived vulgarity and unwillingness to behave in a presidential manner or, more to the point, like a member of the educated classes to which he actually belongs. That is what fuels the anger of his opponents. If the red hat that is emblematic of support for the president is, as some commentators have made clear on CNN and other outlets, now seen by Trump’s opponents as being as much a “trigger” for feelings of fear of racist behavior as a Ku Klux Klan white hood, then issues and ideology have become secondary to symbolism that denotes an attitude that is assumed to be hateful if not offensive... As any casual viewer of late-night television knows, in the past few years virtually all of the popular shows have become daily in-kind contributions to the Democrats, as Hollywood’s liberal orthodoxy has taken full possession of pop-culture outlets. The ratings of NBC’s Jimmy Fallon suffered when he was perceived as neutral toward Trump, rather than as a hostile partisan, in 2016 during an interview. Fallon was forced to adopt a more political and anti-Trump tone in order to compete with his rivals.
Developing now, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
RUSH TO JUDGMENT – AND ITS LESSONS: The much-discredited BuzzFeed story alleging that President Trump urged former personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress and the viral video of the encounter between Covington High School students and Native American protestors in Washington, D.C. last weekend have two things in common and one very important lesson… Both were examples of the media’s rush to judgment before the facts surfaced. And both illustrate the media’s hatred of Trump and shows how that anti-Trump bias infects the way they cover the news.
BuzzFeed still stands by its report, even though Special Counsel Robert Mueller has said it was “not accurate.” But as “Media Buzz” host Howard Kurtz points out, the damage had already been done, with several media outlets repeating the erroneous report, drumming the impeachment alarm, seemingly on loop, with the somewhat flimsy caveat “if true.” Pundits and Democratic lawmakers followed in tow, on the airwaves and on social media.
Coverage of the encounter between the Covington students and Native American group – specifically student Nick Sandmann and activist Nathan Phillips – was arguably much worse. Initial coverage, fed by an abbreviated video of the encounter and a rabid social media mob, portrayed Sandmann, a junior, and his classmates as young “MAGA” hat wearing, Trump-supporting racists who were taunting Native Americans and people of color. And people on both the left and the right jumped to condemn the students before a longer video told a different, more nuanced story.
Kneejerk pundits rushed to delete their kneejerk tweets. Some journalists, pundits and celebrities, like actress Jamie Lee Curtis, owned up to their own mistakes in rushing to judgment. But not everyone did. The lesson learned here, as Kurtz writes, is this: “There’s no harm in waiting for more details before denouncing people based on fragmentary information, even if you have to restrain yourself from joining the hot-take crowd.”