Saturday, August 18, 2012

When journalism fails

So someone I know shared this masterpiece on Facebook:

News just released, a Marine Veteran, Brandon Raub who served in Iraq and Afghanistan was arrested by FBI and Secret Service agents around 7 p.m. on August 15, 2012 for what was considered by some, including his mother, patriotic Facebook postings.

According to his mother on a radio talk show hosted by Josh Tolley, she said, “He was handcuffed, was not read his rights … I want that to be heard very clear. He was not read his rights … he was handcuffed, put in the back seat in Chesterfield County, Virginia police department vehicle. And um, he was taken to ... directly to John Randall Psychiatric Hospital in Hopewell, Virginia and that is where he is right now.”

The article continues to focus on the arrest and what the Marine's mom says happened to him, stammers helpfully included. It concludes with this solid piece of reporting:

The nature of Brandon Raub being arrested has come to no surprise to many since President Obama took office. In 2009, Homeland Security Department intelligence assessment released a report on American terrorism and unfairly characterized military veterans as right-wing extremists and other groups that they view could be domestic terrorists.

The interview appears to be a transcript from a video included with the article, which features audio from the Josh Tolley Show. Tolley, by the way, describes himself on his website as both "truly independent" and "the lead in show for programs such as Michael Savage." The article was written by conservative writer Christopher Collins for the Examiner, a news site I frequently see recruiting just about anyone to write for it. 

So I'm not surprised that at no point during this exercise in outrage does anyone actually cite what Brandon Raub wrote on Facebook. Collins' article makes no citation (offering up an easily overlooked link instead), and while Tolley does ask Brandon's mom what he wrote, they run out of time before she can read any posts — and he ultimately takes her side anyway.

There's simply no excuse for not sharing what Raub wrote within the article. After all, the point these people are making is that he's been unfairly detained for exercising his freedom of speech. How dare this free country arrest a Marine for saying "patriotic" things?!! Proof positive that he's right about changes needing to occur!

Oh, right. See, we do know that Raub is seriously pissed at the government. His Facebook wall clearly shows that. For all we know thanks to incomplete reporting, some posts have since been excised. But even what's there as I type this makes me understand why he's a person of interest. Check out these screen captures:

Yeah, I think that might be construed as incendiary speech (and there's so much more of it). Anyone seeking examples of government oppression should probably look to someone who isn't specifically threatening the authorities and the government.

And non-professional journalists should remember to cite important facts, regardless of how it diminishes their predetermined ideological outrage.


GDad said...

There is so much to untangle in that mess, but the thing that jumped out at me was his idea that Americans will win the civil war.

I suspect he doesn't know what words mean.

Ian McGibboney said...

Yeah, I'm reminded of something I once read about wrestling fans in Mad magazine: that they'll chant, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" during a match between a guy from Texas and a guy from Michigan.

But seriously, I suspect by civil war he means, real Americans vs. fake Americans (such as those who don't agree 100 percent with his hard line). In his mind, that's a thing that's going to happen. Because there really is a groundswell of Americans who hate America and root for its collapse.

The funny thing is, the only people who are talking about this are guys like him. The so-called "real" Americans. And they call persecution because, hey, they're the good guys! How could anyone not see that?

GDad said...

I think that the "No True Scotsman" fallacy won't sink in until we Latinize it like "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" or something.

Google tells me it's "nulla vera Scotus."