Covington debacle: Consequences needed all around

By Sean Harshey

As the dust settles on the recent “day of hate” as the Covington Catholic High School students attending the March for Life rally in Washington, there are some lessons and observations regarding a lot of events surrounding this incident. Above all, there must be consequences.

As a quick background for those not tuned in to the viral news item of this week: The annual March for Life took place Friday. It is annually one of the largest gatherings in Washington, D.C., with more than 100,000 attendees this year. The event is also widely ignored by major media. Pro-life groups from around America participate in the event, including many Catholic school groups.

As a disclaimer, my own children attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. One of my daughters made the voluntary trip to Washington a few years ago with her classmates for the March for Life.

Late Friday, news outlets began reporting on a viral social media story accusing a group of students attending the March for Life from a Catholic high school in Covington, Kentucky, of surrounding an elderly Native American man and harassing and taunting him. Most reports only showed a photo of the older man holding a drum and standing face to face with a young white high school boy wearing a red MAGA hat. By Saturday morning the collective American media were howling in outrage at the high school students. They were “doxed” (all of their personal and family information was dug up and blasted out across social media), their families threatened, their lives were threatened, their high school was deluged by enraged leftists with everything from complaints about the students to bomb threats and demands for expulsion.

By Saturday night major media were on a full-throttle rampage against the students, their high school, their parents, their community, white people, in general, and President Trump, in particular. The level of hatred and condemnation was incredible, even by the standards of modern viral outrage. As everyone now knows, the story about which everyone was outraged … was a lie. In fact, by Saturday evening as CNN and other news outlets were actively fanning the flames of pure hate at innocent people, there were already dozens of different videos circulating online showing the event from several different angles. All of these videos showed the same thing: The kids from Covington Catholic being harassed with racial slurs by a group of black activists and then approached by the Indian activist/protester, who stood chanting and beating his drum in the students’ faces.

Virtually all of the hate, condemnation and horrible reporting by media happened after the truth was there for anyone to see. One commentator at CNN finally gave a half-hearted admission her outraged coverage of the incident was incorrect, but not until almost two days later after her poisonous coverage had whipped viewers into a frenzy over a lie. Twitter users duly pointed out the videos showing the truth were widely available before she went live on Saturday night and questioned why nobody at CNN bothered to look at any of the videos to confirm her story.

Ultimately, several outlets have grudgingly apologized and admitted they ran with a story before verifying its truthfulness.

Apologies are not enough, though. A whole host of people must be held accountable for spreading vicious lies that turned upside down the world of these students and other innocent people.

Nathan Phillips, the Trump-hating professional protester who began this horrible fiasco lied to the media. A spiteful, hateful lie to portray himself as a victim of racist Trump supporters. It is not enough for a small handful of media types to express disappointment at Phillips’ lie. He must be made to pay for what he started.

Every major media outlet that repeated Phillips’ lie to their audiences must also be made to pay a heavy price. There were, almost immediately, videos circulating on social media showing Phillips’ claim to be a lie. Instead of doing even a minimal check to verify his claims, major media ignored the readily available sources and intentionally jumped on the wave of an angry mob, fanning the flames of a lie for the sake of ratings, presenting outrageous content and destroying the reputations of minors. Even more egregious, as the death threats, bomb threats, doxing and the full force of mass hysteria directed at minors became obvious, the so-called professional media continued stirring the hatred at their targets.

Individual users of social media who called for violence, threatened people’s lives, demanded expulsion and/or revocation of college admission, harassed students’ families, harassed employers of the parents and inflicted other real-world abuse must also be held accountable and made to pay for their actions.

The responsible persons at Covington Catholic High School and their archdiocese who immediately and publicly threw their own students to the howling mob must be held responsible. The shameful cowardice of school administrators and archdiocese officials who rushed to genuflect to the vicious hordes of leftists and offer up the children as a sacrifice must pay a price. These young people were attending a pro-life rally and – as video showed – behaved exactly as one would hope: Exercising self-control in the face of harassment from protesters. The school and church were supposed to be protecting, nurturing and setting an example for these young people. The church publicly denounced their own children, and the school disgraced itself by assuring the mob the students may be expelled. By doing this, their own school and church actually joined the insanity.

Covington Catholic High School is closed this week because of bomb threats and other threats of violence from enraged liberals. These kids’ lives and their families’ lives are changed forever. Over a lie. There must be significant consequences for this.

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