Media Reporting for Naval Base Shooting Gets A Failing Grade

Posted by Brian

For those of you who watched the wall-to-wall coverage of yesterday's shooting at the Washington, D.C. Naval Shipyard:  Never mind!  Data dump everything you learned from the news yesterday.

In their haste to be the first, news reporters and networks put out a slew of inaccuracies. As a person who has gone to school to be an instructor, one of the first things they teach you, is about a thing called the "Law of Primacy". What the "Law" tells us is that people will remember the first thing that they are taught.  Therefore, it is imperative that the initial information you disseminate to your audience is correct, because that is the information that they are going to remember.  Even if you go back and correct it, the brain will default to the initial info that it learned. That journalists don't know this, or were never taught this, I find difficult to believe. With that in mind, it should be absolutely embarrassing to these people and organizations that this seems to happen during every major crisis, or event.
Q. What's wrong with this picture? A. EVERYTHING! The entire front page is based on a false premise.
An AR-15 rifle was not used by the shooter, and he never had one.

I think a lot of this is because U.S. news services have become both agenda-driven and ratings-driven, and when an incident breaks that fits both agendas simultaneously, just stand back and watch the freak show of pundits and talking heads vying for the award of "most outrageous comment".  If they happen to destroy a persons life or reputation with premature conjecture, so be it.  It's all about the story.

The sheer amount of misinformation put out yesterday in a short span of time is staggering.  Apparently, fact-checking and multiple sources are now arcane journalistic practices best left to the old fossils who are ready to collect their gold watch and pension.   Lost arts, indeed.

Some of the "breaking" news surrounding the shootings:

  • There were up to three gunmen.  False.  There was only one.
  • CNN and ABC both identified the wrong man as the gunman, and had to walk back their initial reports.  Now before you defend the networks with "there was a lot happening very quickly", remember this:  They're making an accusation against an individual of committing a truly evil act. Not something you really want to get wrong!  Richard Jewell never regained his reputation after being falsely identified, tried, and convicted by the media as the "Olympic bomber". Even though Eric Rudolph was later charged, captured, and convicted, the character assassination of Jewell was so intense that instead of being known as the hero who discovered the bomb, cleared the area and prevented unimaginable death and mayhem, he has forever been labeled as an oddball, a wannabe cop who lived with his mother, and the first suspect of the Olympic Park bombing.
  • The gunman used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Once again - FALSE!  The FBI reported that the gunman used a shotgun, and that there was no indication that the gunman ever had an AR-15. However, the reporting of an AR-15 did have the desired effect on the anti-gun crowd. Piers Morgan (of course) jumped on this "news" as did Senator Dianne Feinstein and others, calling for more gun control.  Morgan dedicated a segment in which the facts and data once again had no effect.  No matter.  Piers was in his element, orgasmic in his ignorance.

  • The media reported that 13 were killed in the rampage, insinuating that there were thirteen victims.  But the thirteenth person was the killer himself.  This does not minimize the tragedy.  Twelve families have been torn apart by this sick SOB. So, why would the media make it appear that there were 13 "victims".  Maybe it's because it makes for a nice, tidy tie-in to the Fort Hood shootings in which Nidal Hasan killed 13 soldiers.  Or, maybe not. We don't know. As far as I'm concerned, there are twelve victims.  The killer got what he deserved and is not a victim in my mind.
Is it any wonder that Americans are so skeptical of the news they get from the mainstream media, and a comedy show (the Daily Show)  is considered a major "news source" for the under-25 age group?

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