Our Contemptible Media

One takeaway from the tragedy in Newtown is that if there’s an element in the Bill of Rights that needs revisiting, it’s the first and not the second amendment. The absolute gleeful joy that members of the media have taken in using the tragedy to advance an agenda is exemplified by the likes of Piers Morgan, who at least has the decency to admit as much:

Okay, Piers was being sarcastic, but this is a case where sarcasm revealed some truth. Morgan has been a leading crusader for gun reform in light of the shootings, and he has used his platform to bully gun rights proponents. Here is Morgan embarrassing himself on national television with Larry Pratt a few nights ago. And here he is with John Lott.

When a media personality causes you to yearn for the insight and wisdom of Larry King, you know you have reached the absolute bottom of the barrel.

Now Morgan’s rank opportunism in the wake a tragedy is not even the most disgusting aspect of media behavior in the past week.  Matt Lewis details some of the more egregious behavior.

The media originally reported the wrong name of the alleged shooter. (The suspected killer was Ryan Lanza, they breathlessly reported. Turns out it was actually Ryan’s brother, Adam.) Then, some in the media advertised Ryan’s Facebook and Twitter pages. (This, of course, brings to mind Brian Ross’ irresponsible and premature on-air suggestion over the summer that the Aurora shooter was a Tea Party member.)

As if those cases of egregiously mistaken identity weren’t enough, producers and reporters began trolling Twitter, seeking to proposition friends and relatives of the victims for an interview.

Meanwhile, others staked out the young survivors, and then proceeded to conduct on-air interviews with these young children. This was unseemly and superfluous. As TIME‘s James Poniewozik wrote, “There is no good journalistic reason to put a child at a mass-murder scene on live TV, permission of the parents or not.”

While the media preens about gun control, the fourth estate ignores its own role in potentially prompting these horrific events. A forensic psychologist named Park Dietz thinks the media has blood on their hands.

“Here’s my hypothesis,” he said. “Saturation-level news coverage of mass murder causes, on average, one more mass murder in the next two weeks.” The reason, he says, has something to do with the USA’s size. In a country so large the likelihood of one or two people snapping becomes quite high.

“It’s not that the news coverage made the person paranoid, or armed, or suicidally depressed,” Dietz said. “But you’ve got to imagine this small number of people sitting at home, with guns on their lap and a hit list in their mind. They feel willing to die. When they watch the coverage of a school shooting or a workplace mass murder, it only takes one or two of them to say – ‘that guy is just like me, that’s the solution to my problem, that’s what I’ll do tomorrow’. The point is that the media coverage moves them a little closer to the action.

The 24/7 news cycle may not be the cause of these massacres, but the intense coverage . . . doesn’t help.

What the past few days have shown is that the media’s leftist tilt is not the primary problem. While there are some noble and decent reporters – Jake Tapper comes to mind – overall they are a wretched hive of scum and villainy. All right, maybe they’re not that bad, but one wonders what motivates certain members of the press. One relatively minor incident from the world of sports demonstrates what I mean.

The New York Mets recently traded Cy Young award winner RA Dickey (weep), along with a couple of other players, for a couple of high-end prospects from the Toronto Blue Jays. One of those prospects, pitcher Noah Syndergaard, had sent out a tweet (before the trade) to one his friends, mocking him for buying crocs. In the tweet Syndergaard used the “f” word, and not the one that is the synonym for coitus. This “anti gay slur” caught some people’s attention, and the tweet was subsequently deleted.

Enter New York Daily News Mets beat reporter Andy Martino. Martino sent out a series of tweets himself reporting on the story, grabbed a screencap of the now deleted tweet, and then filed this story in the News reporting on the situation. Yes, this was truly the sort of award-winning, investigative work that is at the heart of journalism. Martino caught some flak for reporting on what really seemed to be a trivial matter, and justified it via twitter:

Except that Martino brought far more attention to the tweet than if he had simply ignored it. Instead, bored perhaps now that the major news of the off-season had come and gone, Martino decided to write a story about a silly tweet, and continued pursuing  it in other venues.

As I wrote on twitter, thanks to Martino for so perfectly encapsulating why I wrote my novel. Most members of the media deserve mockery because they chase insignificant stories, create news where there is no news, and come to completely wrong-headed conclusions based on those stories. Martino’s behavior is not nearly as oafish as Morgan’s, but it is representative of a media that has become all too easy to caricature.

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Dante alighieri


  1. “. . . overall they are a wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

    Hear, hear!

    reason.com; Jacob Sullum re: CNN/Piers Morgan’s rationale for gun control: You’re stupid! You’re mass murder waiting to happen!! “The exchange, during which Pratt remains admirably calm, pretty accurately reflects the general tenor of the current gun control debate, with raw emotionalism and invective pitted against skepticism and an attempt at rational argument. I am not saying that every supporter of gun control is a raving bully on the order of Piers Morgan, . . . But proponents of new gun restrictions are counting on emotional appeals for victory, which is why they insist that action must be taken immediately, before the grief and outrage provoked by Adam Lanza’s crimes starts to fade.”

  2. It gets (if you can imagine it) worse.

    Karl Denninger:

    “You see, our government has been running guns. Illegally running guns. Jaime Avila, in just one of many examples, purchased two rifles that were found at the scene of a federal agent shot near the Arizona-Mexico border. Our government knew Mr. Avila was illegally trafficking weapons to the Sinaloa drug cartel. Nonetheless, when his purchases were called into the BATFE for clearance, the government intentionally approved the transactions (a felony) despite knowing they were illegal.

    “Two of those hundreds of weapons came back over the border and were used to murder Brian Terry. Hundreds of Mexican citizens have been murdered with these guns in total — guns that our government illegally, intentionally and maliciously allowed to be delivered to this murderous cartel.

    “Mr. Avila’s sentence? 57 months in prison, or just under 6 years.


    “Two days before the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.”

    Media outrage? Zero

  3. John Lott is the last person a gun grabber should ever try to take on in a debate. I mean that’s really asking for it.

  4. Does anyone wonder if Satan contrived this tragedy to allow a Socialist President to disarm America? Does anyone remember what happened to Germany after it was disarmed? Gun control is the flagship of every socialist philosophy. Only criminals and tyrants would have weapons. What a mockery that would be.

  5. The NRA is America’s first, and longest running, civil rights organization. I’m an Endowment NRA member for 40 years.

    I am proud of my friend and our EVP Wayne LaPierre’s for his lecture to that horde of lying, vile scum.

    You know he succceeded. They’ve really got their collectivist bloomers in a bunch: massive wedgie administered!

  6. If there was any stupidity on Mr. Pratt’s part, it was thinking he could have a sensible discussion with someone like Piers Morgan on this subject.

  7. The name “Münchausen syndrome by proxy” is derived from Münchausen syndrome, but it is important to distinguish one from the other, as they describe very different (but related) conditions. People with Münchausen syndrome have a profound need to assume the sick role, and will exaggerate complaints, falsify tests, and/or self-inflict illnesses.[5] MSbP perpetrators, by contrast, are willing to fulfill their need for positive attention by hurting their own child, thereby assuming the sick role by proxy. At times, they are also able to assume the hero role and garner still more positive attention, by appearing to care for and ‘save’ their child.[6] from WIKIPEDIA

    “Piers Morgan: “Of course I am, you moron” > RT @coelkhntr I think you are somewhat gleeful that a tragedy happened to help you push your cause”

  8. Any person who dismisses our founding principles, that is, our right to Life, Liberty and our pursuit of Happiness dismisses his own citizenship. This is why there is a Supreme Court to decide his innocence or guilt. A guilty person has incriminated his citizenship and may not be free to participate in the community.

  9. How do the lying, vile scum get away with it?

    Answer: Public schools consign nearly all Americans to innumeracy: mathematical ignorance/illiteracy. Mass lunacy is a consequence. See John Allen Paulos’ book.

    Case in point: innumeracy/pseudoscience behind assault rifle bans.

    Without a familiarity with the workings of large numbers, people can irrationally react to terrifying incidents, especially when propagandized by evil men.

    An example: fear of flying and terrorism. Airline terrorism deaths have been a media theme. About 85,000,000 body cavity searches later . . .

    Here is the math: in 1985, 17 Americans died in air terror. In that year, 28,000,000 Americans traveled by air. Ergo the chances of being killed by air terror were 1:1,600,000. Compare 1:1,600,000 to 1:5,300 killed by car crashes.

    They cry, “You are all mass murderers waiting to massacre school children!”!

    In 2012, so far (what?) 50 were killed in assault rifle massacres. Your odds are: 50 in 310,000,000 or 1:6,200,000.

    “The NRA Kills School Children!”

    “But, but . . . if it happened to you that would be 1:1.” Here is another symptom of innumeracy: the tendency to personalize (hint: it’s irrational and wrong). The only instances wherein personalization works are death and taxes: you are 1:1 lilely to die, and you can’t avoid taxes, either.

    If I have to talk with such imbeciles, I usually say, “Sudden death is preferable to malignant melanoma. In the long run, we all die.” Then, I hope the headaches aren’t too harsh.

    Innumeracy also shows itself in pseudoscience which includes the gun control superstition.

    Isaac Asimov: “Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What have we to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!”

    And, liberty!

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