Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Modern journalism is dangerous and let Douglas Robinson down
On Your Right
Douglas Robinson was murdered last week. You probably don’t know that name, even though you probably know his fellow Chicagoan Jussie Smollett, who was arrested last Thursday for falsely claiming to have been beaten up by two white racist homophobes wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
It’s not your fault. Smollett, a fashionably gay B-grade actor who appeared on the television series “Empire” has been plastered all over broadcast, print and internet “news,” where his increasingly complex and contradictory story has been repeated ad nauseum with embellishments and commentary from all of the usual suspects about the horrors of living in Donald Trump’s America. Accompanied by the usual histrionics and hand-wringing.
Robinson, on the other hand, was no one bright and beautiful, save perhaps in the eyes of God and those who were his friends in the tent city by Chicago’s Dan Ryan Expressway. He was 57, alone and homeless, and he was shot to death at 4:45 in the afternoon in an unknown dispute. You don’t know him because to the media — who claim to do what they do in search of decency, good and truth — Robinson was a nobody. His death couldn’t provide them with another opportunity to attack the president, so it was trashed by all those earnest seekers after truth who had bigger fish to fry, and Smollett’s victimization to do it with.
A decent journalist with real interest in actual issues facing everyday Americans could have turned Robinson’s death into something meaningful. He or she could have used it to speak of things long in need of frank discussion: what society does to people who refuse to, or can’t, conform; how those who trumpet their concern are often concerned more with their own image than with the impact of their actions on those toward whom they profess concern; the reasons behind the despair, the abandonment, the surrender. He or she might have usefully wondered whether large and expensive bureaucracies staffed by comfortable bureaucrats in climate-controlled offices are really the best answer, and whether Robinson might have preferred smaller, more helpful mercies delivered by people who knew him and thought of him as something more than a statistic.
But Smollett’s story had racist goons in MAGA hats. And taunts. And a beating. And a noose. And did I mention MAGA hats? It was irresistible; Robinson was, in contrast, nothing to them. True, his death was real and Smollett’s assault was apparently a lie. But one that fit all the media’s stereotypes to a tee, so they hit it like a prize tarpon hitting a lure.
Smollett, who apparently missed the day when “adulting class” addressed how one requests a raise, concocted a story about an attack by rage-fueled, Trump-addled racists, and a breathless national commentariat seized and obsessively revisited it even after the lie was exposed. Because, TRUMP!
Similarly Julie Swetnik, the Maryland woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh of drugging, raping and pimping teenage girls back in the day was idolized briefly by the left and their stenographer-pool media, who ignored her casual familiarity with the truth and her history as a lawsuit maven. Until the whole business simply collapsed under the weight of its ludicrous improbabilities. Rely on the scribbling classes to studiously ignore any action against her for perjury. She’s a saint, because TRUMP!
Nick Sandmann, a good Catholic boy from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky went with a group of friends to a National Right to Life march in Washington, D.C., and was accosted afterward by one Nathan Phillips, a Native American who approached him and for some minutes beat a drum near his head and chanted while Sandmann stood stock still. For which, on the basis of one brief video from one anonymous source, Sandmann was diagnosed as a psychotic, racist sociopath wearing a MAGA hat. Because, TRUMP!
Even by people who should know better. I’m looking at you, Bishop Foys …
Smollett, Swetnik and Phillips are simply tools in the left’s ongoing scorched-earth campaign against President Trump. How they were wielded tells us much about the decline and debasement of journalism in America.
Once upon a time, stories did not run in respectable media outlets without two-source corroboration — and that didn’t mean two sources who didn’t want to give their names. Anonymous sources were confined to supermarket tabloid stories about Bill Clinton’s alien love child, bat-boys and sundry other subjects more suitable for the byways of a carnival midway than for national television. Now that’s all out the window. Because, TRUMP!
Now the country suffers because the few and well-connected who thought themselves Masters of the World, were shown otherwise, and can’t get over it.
Pathetic. And dangerous.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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