Here are some words you probably didn’t hear in the news recently:
“Some kids had some automatic weapons they didn’t need.” – First Lady Michelle Obama
The quote comes from an unedited version of an ABC interview. In context, she’s talking about the tragic death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendelton in Chicago.
This sounds like a problem! Good lord, why would we leave automatic weapons in the hands of children? Isn’t there a law against that? Can’t we do something to stem the tide of automatic weapons flowing into the hands of our sweet children?
Thankfully, ABC was helpful (like all good unbiased media should be, right?). They edited the interview “for time” before airing it on Good Morning America. By “edited for time” I mean that they took out seven seconds of words from two segments lasting over eight and a half minutes. And the seven seconds were the quote you see in italics above, helpfully removed mid-sentence with a visual cutaway to cover the edit for viewers at home.
Ain’t technology grand?
The context of the quote, from the Fox article: “She was absolutely right. She did everything she was supposed to do. She was standing in a park, with her friends, in a neighborhood blocks away from where my kids grew up, where our house is. And she was caught in the line of fire. I just don’t want to keep disappointing our kids in this country. I want them to know that we put them first.”
The original unedited quote was “she was caught in the line of fire because some kids had some automatic weapons they didn’t need.”
First off, yes, it’s a Fox News article that’s drawing on a piece from the Washington Times. I can guess what my liberal friends are thinking. “Right wing agenda! Tea Party propaganda!” And I fell for it! Oh noes!
Wait, how is it a Right wing agenda to point out that ABC happily covered up a glaring error in the First Lady’s understanding of this tragedy? Was it Right wing propaganda to point out edits made to Romney campaign speeches in order to paint him as an out-of-touch buffoon? Were we falling for the deceptions of the Right when we learned about NBC editing the 911 call made by George Zimmerman?
And isn’t the whole point of the media (of whatever stripe) to report the actual facts (as if there are other kinds of facts), not their particular slant and their edited made-for-target-audience version of events?
Is Fox guilty of stuff like this? Probably. I’m sure they like making the Right look good, just like ABC and others try to put the Left in a positive light. I’m no Fox clone, unable to see their position and their bias in reporting. You’ll note that I also linked to a CNN political article in this post.
What I’m saying is, I expect it to be a rule of media that they report what actually happened. If the facts and the tapes don’t tell the story you want, that’s too bad. You don’t get to edit the evidence to paint the picture of reality you want.
(Likewise, dear White House, you don’t get to threaten the press when they report the facts. I guess I can see why ABC would be so eager to edit the interview and help the First Lady save face.)
Technology gives us tremendous tools to get the word out about a given event at unprecedented speeds compared to how news traveled throughout history. But with that power comes responsibility to stick to the truth, not edit it to suit our whims.