badlydrawnjeff (badlydrawnjeff) wrote in talk_politics,

How a Meme Begins

The headline at MSNBC is "Emotional father of Sandy Hook victim heckled by gun nuts." The folks at Huffington Post and The Daily Beast also ran headlines about the father being heckled. Slate tweeted as such, although the headline was more neutral. If you do a search in Google News, I'm sure many other local, national, and international news sources say the same thing.

The problem is that it isn't true, as evidenced by the full video of the testimony. The testimony isn't easy to watch, but the relevant portion to this discussion begins right at the 15 minute mark, and concludes in less than a minute:

Quite a different situation than what was presented in the media, is it not? Why is that?

This is a continuing problem in the media lately, and one that should be giving us pause. Initial reactions, almost always to the benefit of one ideological side over the other, bear little resemblence to what comes about on further investigation. It was the case with the Benghazi attack with many media outlets clinging to the "spontaneous reaction to a video" meme. It was the case with Sandy Hook and the "mass shootings on the rise" meme, which isn't true. It was the case with the ever-changing story surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting, which has gone through numerous permutations even though many still think the initial story is the only one. I'm sure many of us could come up with more.

Some of the blame, many could say, is just a product of the current news cycle, which puts being first ahead of being right. There's something to that, for sure. The problem is when being first almost always seems to become the trend in the media, and the one to take hold. Especially with Facebook and Twitter becoming so significant to the distribution of information, a few bad headlines that never get corrected and never get followed up become the norm. Of course, it leads to the question as to why people find significantly self-serving news, whether it be Alternet or The Blaze, ThinkProgress or FreeRepublic, to be of value as well - people want to hear what they want to hear, and too often, it results in less knowledge.

Any ideas on how to solve this?
Tags: bias, media, video
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