Politics & Policy

The Shaming of Cheryl Rios

In the age of media narratives, your business is everyone's business.

Here it is, the nadir of news:

Dallas Woman Posts on Facebook “A Female Shouldn’t Be President”

That is a real headline from the website of CBS 11, Dallas’s local CBS affiliate, where everyone can now read about how Cheryl Rios, the head of a local marketing firm, posted the following to Facebook in reaction to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid:

If this happens — I am moving to Canada. There is NO need for her as she is not the right person to run our country — but more importantly a female shouldn’t be president. Let the haters begin . . . but with the hormones we have there is no way we should be able to start a war. Yes I run my own business and I love it and I am great at it BUT that is not the same as being the President, that should be left to a man, a good, strong, honorable man.

CBS 11 thought this declaration so important that it sent a reporter to interview Rios — who, unsurprisingly, defended her comment. You can watch the interview.

Many have noted — with appropriate mockery — the inane press coverage of Hillary Clinton’s “spontaneous” road trip, which on Tuesday included breaking news that she ordered a Masala Chai tea (!) and a Caramellow latte (!) at a coffee shop (!) filled with everyday Americans (!) in Le Claire, Iowa! But — and this is, note, the most robust defense possible for this coverage — at least Hillary Clinton is running for office. We can argue over the extent to which candidates’ public and personal lives should be distinguished, and we can argue about what information is valuable to report — the press is always making tradeoffs about what deserves coverage and what does not — but we can agree that she chose a public life in the modern age, and that this might mean having your Chipotle order scrutinized.

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But who is Cheryl Rios? Nobody — at least, not until CBS 11 reported on her personal opinion posted on her personal Facebook page, and turned her into the latest object of left-wing Twitter’s two minutes’ hate (operative hashtag: “#everydaysexism”). And this story is, I think, prompted by a more alarming impulse than was the Hillary Burrito Blowout, which was straightforward media herdmindedness: Reporter Steve Pickett — and his editors — thought that Rios’s comment was worth publicizing. It was something people in the Dallas—Fort Worth Metropolitan Statistical Area needed to know to be informed citizens. It was news.

Yet it is unfair to blame the affiliate entirely. No, it is not difficult to see that this is what you get when what is newsworthy is what informs an ideological narrative. If the story is that “America chafes under the yoke of rampant sexism” — and since we have obliterated the distinction between thought and deed — then it is only reasonable to begin mining private opinions for evidence, which then can be — must be! for justice! — exposed. The endgame is clear: Certain opinions cannot be allowed to exist.

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#related#We saw a similar episode in Indiana two weeks ago. The Left screamed about “homophobes” and “bigots” secretly planning to oppress LGBT persons under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. So the local ABC affiliate went out searching for some of those people. Thus, the O’Connor family of Walkerton, Ind., and their pizzeria, became hate-totems for Yelp users everywhere — on the basis of a hypothetical scenario.

Political opinions are always, must always be, subject to criticism. But there is a marked difference between opinions about public matters expressed publicly, and toward public ends, and those expressed privately, even if that is the pseudo-privacy of a personal Facebook page. A media that sets to publicizing those opinions — to boost a narrative, or just to boost its own traffic — is not a part of a free press, but a functionary of a culture increasingly comfortable criminalizing free thought.

— Ian Tuttle is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.


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