The Media Has Now Reached the Point Where Pursuing the "Truth" is a Negative
At this past weekend’s “Upon Further Review” conferences hosted by Franco Harris in Philadelphia and Washington, DC the level of optimism among almost everyone involved was palpable. There seems to be a pervasive feeling that we had endured the worst storms that this story is going to offer and that things were starting to go our way. The wind may not yet be at our back, but most people seemed to think that at least the weather is getting significantly more hospitable.
While the facts certainly warranted that sense of hopefulness, there is no doubt that when it comes to the media reaction to our efforts that not much has changed. In fact, the more they start to realize that we might be right, the worse we are likely to be treated.
That was certainly the take away based on several specific reactions by members of the media to the conferences.
In Philadelphia we had at least two (the infamous Howard Eskin had agreed to be a panelist before implausibly claiming that his bosses wouldn’t let him participate) agree to be part of the event before bailing without explanation or notice.
Dom Giordano, a radio talk show host with whom I once worked, was booked to replace Eskin and even had Franco and Anthony Lubrano on his show to promote the event. He never even bothered to show up or even tell Franco he wasn’t coming. I sent him an email asking him what the heck happened and he never even had the decency to return the message.
Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer was also supposed to be on the panel and at least he showed up. But then he bizarrely decided to bail without even bothering to even give a reason. Before he ran away, he told a highly reputable person that he didn’t understand what we were doing since everyone knew that Joe Paterno had forced Jerry Sandusky into retirement because of these allegations.
When I confronted Fitzpatrick on Twitter about the blatant inaccuracy of that statement he claimed that I was lying (I wish I had enough trust in him to believe what he was telling me). He then proceeded to laughably claim that what we were doing was a “pep rally” that was “too one sided” (as if the media coverage of the past 15 months hasn’t been one sided!) and that we are “conspiracy nuts.”
When I asked him what was possibly conspiratorial about my website (which specifically states it is NOT based on a conspiracy theory) or movie he admitted he hadn’t seen them. Somehow that didn’t stop the “journalist” from continuing to falsely claim that I represented a bunch of “conspiracy nuts.”
After the panel, I was approached by a young reporter from Philadelphia Magazine. I immediately told him that his magazine had been horrendous on this story and that I presumed he would be the same. He scoffed at that and insisted that he had an open mind on what we were doing. As I almost always do, I answered his questions while simultaneously giving him some benefit of the doubt while also expecting to get attacked.
As usual, my instincts were correct. Here is what he wrote, which read like a parody of a hit piece:
About the only redeeming element of the story comes at the very end when he quotes me as predicting (correctly) that he would do a hatchet job on the event. His “report” included many inaccuracies and mischaracterizations. The most egregious from my perspective is that he tried to make it look like I expressed a lack of concern for the Sandusky victims. He purposely didn’t point out that my statement came during a panel discussion and on the heels of Anthony Lubrano citing empathy for the victims and that I followed him in the context of only having one other thing to add to that obviously universal sentiment.
When I emailed the writer about all of this, he at least responded several times but seemed far more interested in the fact that I had once been the subject of a 23-page cover story in The Atlantic magazine which was written by the supposedly great David Foster Wallace (who committed suicide) than in correcting his mistakes. He was also, hilariously, offended that I stated that I didn’t think he was a good reporter or person.
Philadelphia Magazine’s use of the loaded/pejorative word “Truthers” to describe us in their headline was later mimicked by the Washington Times in their account of the event which took place on Sunday just outside the nation’s capital.
Here is what they wrote:
What was most disappointing about that article is that I do not get the sense that the reporter was out to get us (the content of the story is actually pretty fair, it’s just the headline combined with the loaded first sentence creates a misimpression that it is almost impossible to overcome). He seemed very sincere and he and I are both Georgetown graduates. When I asked him about the headline he did the customary writer dodge of “I have nothing to do with that.” That is technically true, but, as I told him via email, he could easily object and explain that the headline doesn’t match the content of the story.
He didn’t respond positively to that simple suggestion.
There are, of course, many ironies in most recent tactic by the media to brand us at ‘Truthers” and “conspiracy nuts.”
First, since when is trying to find the truth evidence that you are conspiracy nut?
Second, we couldn’t make clearer that we don’t believe in any sort of grand conspiracy here and I personally abhor conspiracy theories in general.
Third, “Truthers” is a term usually used to describe those insane people who think that 9/11 was an inside job.
That is a theory, for which there is no evidence and makes no sense, which goes against a mountain of real proof including videotape. We, on the other hand, are fighting against a narrative which makes very little, if any sense and for which there is shockingly little evidence. These two movements couldn't have less to do with each other.
So, why/how is this tactic being taken against us by the media? Well, if I was a “conspiracy nut,” I would probably suggest that it was no coincidence that two major outlets used the same inappropriate word in separate headlines just one day apart.
However, that would be silly.
The media is not nearly competent or smart enough to coordinate like that. Instead, they all simply think a like and have the same incentives. That is how we got most of the sheep-like group think which created this rush to judgment in the first place.
Instead, what is really going on here is that the other side has no real facts. The only weapons they have are intimidation and the discrediting of the voices that are courageous enough to stand up against the lynch mob.
The media has a very profound incentive for us to be wrong. If we are right, the resulting damage to their prestige and credibility will be greater than the Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o stories combined. The more it appears that we are on the path of truth and the more traction we get, the stronger the attacks on us will get.
The bottom line is this: As frustrating as it is to see our movement being unjustly derided and diminished by the very press that made it so necessary, it may actually be the strongest evidence that we are indeed “Truthers” in the best sense of the word and that eventually, assuming the truth still matters, we will prevail.