On Philip DeFranco's “Correction”
I published a video pointing out that DeFranco had helped spread outright lies about the incident between the Catholic, Trump-supporting students and the Native American activist. He published a retraction on Monday and many have commended him for doing so. A significant proportion of national journalists have not and some are even doubling down on the false story, which I guess means that he should be commended for adhering to basic journalistic standards.
The only reason this is even worth following up on is because a glaring omission in his apology reveals a broader problem with the rest of the media class. In his retraction video, he does apologize for jumping too quickly on the story. What he doesn’t do, though, is explain why he was so willing to break his own journalistic standards and totally ignore his lengthy experience reporting on developing stories. Why was he so motivated to completely smear these students as being motivated by racism and hatred? This level of reflection will never be had by either DeFranco or the media class as a whole. Clearly, we’ve all at one point or another made factual errors about news stories, but the eagerness at which the media class threw basic evidentiary standards through the window exposes an ugly problem.
DeFranco won’t reflect on this because he’ll be forced to expose an abject prejudice he has against the whiteness that these young students represented. Naturally, many caught up in the coastal cultures will mock the idea that racist prejudice can be applied to white, male Trump supporters thanks to their belief that only whites have power and cannot be victimized--which this event clearly contradicts. If you’re wearing a MAGA hat and are white, no matter the situation, no matter who instigated an interaction, you will always be viewed as the aggressor by default. You’re guilty before proven innocent and that’s how the DeFrancos of the media would have it.
To casual observers, though, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this unflinching prejudice is why the journalistic class keeps tanking their credibility with every fabricated news story. What was rightfully expected of DeFranco was a direct apology to Nick Sandmann in particular and the rest of the students who he accused of being the proud products of “learned hate” - an apology for leaping to condemn a group simply because of their identity, which is literally what prejudice is. It should be obvious to any honest observer that a black Trump supporter would not have inspired the same response from DeFranco.
Obviously the evidence didn’t bolster his position, but his clear biases against young male Trump supporters insisted that it just must be. That’s the reason he felt the necessity to go on a tirade against Trump more broadly. It’s unfortunate that the media class will barrell on and refuse to reflect on the fact that their prejudice has been the source of so many botched stories. DeFranco decided that this group of students didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt by virtue of being white, male, and Trump supporting and I doubt he’ll ever recognize this, let alone apologize for it.
One thing that DeFranco is right about is that hate is learned and that people truly are more comfortably showcasing it openly. But its perpetrators don’t look like Nick Sandmann. In fact, people like Nick Sandmann are its victims. We don’t need to go through the torrential pour of vicious racism against these kids that we saw in the last week to show that this unequivocally true. Fantasies of violent retribution against these kids were met with thousands of likes and no condemnation from the people who spawned the lies to begin with. It’s because our institutions which shape our culture have convinced us that whiteness, as a concept, is the product and beneficiary of racism. That’s why young white boys are intrinsically suspect to the media. The fact that even center right conservatives were fooled by this smear campaign speaks to how infectious this idea has become. As products of these institutions, privileged journalists who have the power to advance that narrative were foaming at the mouth to do so before doing the basic duty of investigating it and they knew they would get away with it. And they did.
Neither they nor DeFranco will take ownership of the fact that they drove this campaign based on racist lies. And for that reason, it’s doomed to repeat itself.