I am writing about the blind side. No, I am not referring to the American game of football and the sad truth that quarterbacks do not have eyes in the back of their head. Instead, I refer to the political and social biases that make it so hard for us to see and understand the opposition. It is often true of conservatives, but it is even more common among liberal/progressive observers of the political scene.
Let us consider the recent uproar over the Covington Catholic School. A large contingent of students from that Kentucky school arrived in the nation’s capital to take part in the annual March for Life. Other marchers for other causes were also in town, and at some point the different groups came into contact.
Unfortunately, a superfluity of news reporters were also in the city. For the most part, these members of the press had no sympathy for pro-life marchers or the Catholic and Evangelical Christians who formed their ranks. Indeed, they often appear almost blind to the pro-lifer’s existence. To illustrate, massive turnouts of March for Lifers have sometimes been virtually ignored by The Washington Post. A woman’s march or a gay-pride parade receives far more extensive and favorable coverage.
As some of the Covington students gathered around the Lincoln Memorial, an American Indian man approached and began beating his drum in front of one of the students. The student smiled and said nothing. Some reporters said the student smirked or sneered, but I did not see it that way when I later viewed the television footage. The confrontation went on for a number of uncomfortable minutes. There was some shouting on the part of the several groups in the vicinity, including profane chants from a gathering of Black Hebrew Nationalists, but there was no violence.
In first reporting the incident, the major news sources almost uniformly blamed the Covington students for the confrontation. The America Indian was pictured as the victim of verbal abuse by the Catholic schoolboys. The pro-life marchers were castigated as religious and racial bigots.
Fortunately, there were extensive newsreels and videocams of the happenings at the Lincoln Memorial. As these video records were examined, a different picture began to emerge. It now appears that the Covington students were the victims of unwanted confrontation, not the other way around. The American Indian provocateur who confronted them claimed to be a veteran with wartime service in an elite military unit, but this was totally false. He is a veteran with a short period of military service in the continental U.S., but his chief claim to fame is as a semi-professional agitator for a variety of radical causes.
This episode left another black mark on American journalism. In their anxiety to be the first news organization out with a story, reporters ignored the most important maxims. Check your sources. Do the necessary investigation. Above all, tell the truth as accurately as possible.
In this instance, as in so many occasions in recent years, our news organizations were blindsided by their biases.