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.


Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
Film & TV

A Sublime Christian Masterpiece of a Film

‘There are two ways through life -- the way of nature and the way of grace,” remarks the saintly mother at the outset of The Tree of Life, one of the most awe-inspiring films of the 21st century. She continues: Grace doesn’t try please itself. It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked, accepts insults ... Read More
PC Culture

Changing Reality with Words

The reinvention of vocabulary can often be more effective than any social protest movement. Malarial swamps can become healthy “wetlands.” Fetid “dumps” are often rebranded as green “landfills.” Global warming was once a worry about too much heat. It implied that man-made carbon emissions had so ... Read More