The media’s dishonest and dangerous lies about Covington High School have come and gone, and there are some lessons that we should be learning from this scandal. I will admit that I need to learn these lessons as much as anyone.
First, we all need to take a step back before endorsing whatever the “outrage of the moment” is today. There have been far too many times where something appears outlandish, the social media lynch mob jumps on to damn the target, and both the Right and Left have been guilty of this. Matt Walsh said it well when he said on his podcast that “your social media hot take can wait.” Not only are you adding nothing to the conversation by chiming in before all of the facts have been revealed, you might be doing harm to innocent people.
Second, the Fake News media is the enemy of the people. I have resisted endorsing Trump’s language here, for a number of reasons. But when innocent people who were doing nothing to hurt anyone are smeared and demonized falsely by the Fake News media, subjected to a cascade of death threats, along with seeing their families smeared, the Fake News media has proven itself to be the enemy of the people. You could simply be a high school student minding his own business only to be targeted by bigots, cultists and shameless liars, and the Fake News media will destroy your life.
It is bad enough when random social media users are spreading a hoax without getting all of the facts. As wicked as it is, that is to be expected on social media. But for the mainstream “news media” to do it is inexcusable and unforgivable. Their entire job and reason for being is to bring the facts to the viewers and readers of their coverage. This was an epic failure of monstrous proportions, and the Fake News media did exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to do. Every single reporter and editor involved in spreading the lies about Covington High School should be fired from their jobs.
I fear that the First Amendment in serious danger from the lies, defamatory smears, character assassination and reckless disregard for the truth spread by the Fake News media. More and more people are going to want to, as President Trump says, “open up” libel laws or see more strict controls on what the news media can say, post, write and broadcast. This is not a perspective I support, but I understand why people are angry and frustrated. If the First Amendment falls, the bloody knife will be in the hands of the Fake News media.
For conservatives specifically, our primary lesson is we should denounce someone based only on facts after investigating and after waiting a couple days to see if more facts come out, not because Left demands that we denounce someone. There have been far too many cases where conservatives were baited into virtue signaling through denouncing other conservatives, only to find out later that the denunciation was wrong. This is what happened as many conservatives rushed to damn the Covington High School teens without having all of the facts.
Finally, even if the hoax was true and the teenage boys actually did what they were accused of doing, the reaction was totally out of proportion. Sending death threats to teenage kids, trying to destroy family businesses, and calling bomb and mass shooting threats to the school are ridiculous even of the scandal was not a complete and total hoax. I guarantee that every single person doing this has done or said something every bit as offensive as what the Covington teens were accused of doing, because they are also flawed human beings. So not only are they just as bad, but they are also two-faced hypocrites.
This entire episode has been totally shameful and we all need to do better. We cannot make up for the failures of the past, but we can refrain from feeding the lynch mob and ruining people’s lives for a hoax.