Hats Off to the Media
-by Troy Quick
In today’s society, it is easier than ever to get information and news about events going on across the world almost instantly. With this increase in not only speed but amount of information we receive, we are now faced with the issue of misinformation or doctored up stories. This can lead to incidents like a recent social media backlash after a video was published online depicting a group of high school students apparently mocking a Native American man performing ceremonial chants. From the original videos posted of the event all that is shown is the Native American man by the name of Nathan Phillips surrounded and seemingly taunted by these high school students wearing President Trump’s signature make America great again hats. However, the videos which had gained quick popularity from the social outrage over the highschoolers actions were quick to assume it was the whole story.
When the original video was first gaining popularity the account which had first posted it had amassed more than 2.8 million views and tens of thousands of likes and retweets. However, twitter not long after suspended one of the original accounts which posted the online video for reasons which they described as manipulating the public conversation with false account information(Rosenburg 9). Even without the full backstory and knowledge of what happened many were quick to attack the high schoolers with a special focus on one in particular, Nick Sandmann. During the video which follows Phillips as he makes his way through the crowd of high schoolers, he is stopped by Nick Sandmann who does not choose to move out of Phillips path. Sandmann quickly became seen as a symbol of hate and racism for many as he stood unmovingly in front of Phillips as he continued to beat his drum and chant. As seen from the comments on the video and mass of social media posts that followed vilified Sandmann with reports of him and his family receiving death threats from those angry at the video (Johnson 12). Soon more information about the incident was coming to light and it was clear that the original video did not contain or portray the full context of the situation and how it escalated. With a video taken before the incident occurred by a member of the adult group which was there for the indigenous peoples’ rally which was set to take place that day. Showing how members of the Hebrew Israelite group were talking down on the group of teens who happened to be there from their March for Life rally earlier that day; who were now waiting for their buses back to Kentucky. The men in the video can be heard calling the boys “future school shooters” and “incest children” they can also be seen singling out one of the black students and try and provoke him for associating with the other students(Grinberg 16). This additional evidence gives a deeper context as to how the incident occurred and shines a gloomy light on how easy it can be for information to be manipulated to push someone’s agenda.
Media in today’s society has changed from a trusted and reliable source to one which we must now scrutinize and not take at face value. This story of an unpleasant interaction between a group of Kentucky high schoolers and Native American elder Nathan Phillips is a prime example of how information can be skewed and hidden to evoke certain emotions from its audience. As many who watched the video for the first time say that they were outraged at the behavior of the teenagers. Without any expression of personal feelings about the video, it can be said that the media has a strong ability to manipulate what we see and influence public political opinion. This means that unfortunately now in the age of information we must ourselves research and determine if what we are reading is really the actual truth or a truth which someone wants us to hear. When first introduced to a story a good rule of thumb is to try and see if the writer is trying to evoke some sort of emotion out of you; This does not mean that the article is automatically biased or warping your perception, just that as a reader you shouldn’t fully accept or dismiss the argument or story that is presented. A good example of such story is the one involving Sandmann and Phillips which played on current political turmoil going on within the United States to evoke an emotional response to what is portrayed to be an intense racial fueled interaction.
After the viral video gained millions of views across the internet and sparked many news stories, the young man Nick Sandmann has filed a lawsuit against the Washington Post for nearly $250 million in defamation charges. With the outcome to be determined in courts, a bipartisan message can still be taken away by all. That in the end media companies main goal is for you to click on their article, there are lots of ways for them to grab your attention. They can cut videos short like the one involving Sandmann which portrayed it in a more racial oriented manner. As the video which was posted left out much of what the other group was saying to the highschoolers inciting them with verbal teasing. A much shorter clip of Phillips and Sandmann’s standoff was used on media to portray the entirety of the situation. With the original account that posted the video being suspended by Twitter for manipulating the public conversation media outlets still chose to use this skewed view of the event. So with this recent example in mind, if you are ever passionate or even just interested in an article it never hurts to check for their sources or any other information available on the topic. It can be the difference from making a rash assumption and saying something you might regret and making an informed response that is able to back up what it is standing on.
The above article has been written and brought to you by Troy Quick