The Corner

PC Culture

From the BuzzFeed Psychodrama to the Covington Video Melodrama

In the current polarized climate concerning the shutdown, Trump, the media, etc., it would be wise for everyone to take a deep breath and wait at least 24 hours before snap editorializing, in response to the latest sensational morality tale flashing across electronic media.

In the present climate, one video (or even three or four videos from different angles and elevations) is not necessarily worth a thousand words.

Similarly, co-authored sensational scoops might not be so sensational if the old anonymous “sources say” modus operandi has no verifiable supporting documentary evidence as alleged — and if, at the outset, the co-authors cannot substantiate their story, and especially if they also cannot substantiate it later when challenged by the special counsel. (NB: In both the Michael Cohen and Covington stories, BuzzFeed ran with stories that were not substantiated but that did reflect its own predictable agendas).

I doubt we will know exactly what happened at the Washington, D.C., march until more eye-witnesses, videos, interviews, etc. are all collated (other than the fact that different groups were shouting different things, sometimes at each other). But the result will probably be a lot more complicated than the initial narrative of “white spoiled MAGA Catholic youth approached, surrounded, and taunted noble Native American elder,” a narrative that has induced an epidemic of virtue-signaling.

Trump’s freewheeling past should not lend automatic credibility to the latest media charge against him (which, a nanosecond after hitting the media, was followed by demands for his impeachment).

So, too, that a co-author of the BuzzFeed piece, Jason Leopold, had been a confessed felon, had been fired or repudiated by various news venues for alleged unprofessional conduct, and had been an admitted prevaricator did not ipso facto mean that his latest “scoop” had to be immediately written off as false. Just a few hours of gestation would make that clear enough.

In all these cases, why not allow a little time, even if only a few hours, to be the arbitrator of veracity rather than shoot from the hip moral outrage?

Otherwise, day after day after day, we are just updating The Ox-Bow Incident for the Internet age.


NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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