When it comes to the governor of Florida, accuracy at CNN is not nearly as important as the negative hype around Ron DeSantis.
This is becoming such a predictable pattern that the press is operating as if it is acceptable behavior. They come out with an audacious story, level accusations, and then move on once the details are revealed to show something else. It becomes more of a problem when this dichotomy between the charge and the facts takes place within the confines of the same article.
As Jeff Charles covered here late last week — and should have known better (kidding!) — a principal in Florida was let go concerning a lesson in the school regarding the classic sculpture, Michelangelo’s David. As Jeff reported, the principal told the Tallahassee Democrat that she was let go when a parent complained that the depiction of the nude form was presented in a class. But as we are now learning, the story is “evolving,” and the testimony from the school board and the woman fired, Hope Carrasquilla, has shifted as more information comes out.
This new information is something that CNN provides, and yet the outlet elected to still go with a rather slanted headline. Here is how the case is presented by the outlet.
"We are going to make sure that parents specifically know what we are going to show their kids, what we are going to talk to their kids about and any keywords that might be a triggering event," school board Chair Barney Bishop III said https://t.co/hs6kjmEY8l
— CNN (@CNN) March 26, 2023
The way this is all presented sounds like Florida schools have become more repressed than the town council in “Footloose,” and more restrictive than the police authorities in “Demolition Man.” But as we then see, CNN gives quite a different take in the body of the piece, and that headline might be the masterwork of parsing language.
“A charter school principal in Tallahassee, Florida, did not follow procedure before a lesson on Michelangelo’s statue of David was given to sixth graders,” begins this piece, and already we get the sense of the writers couching things in a particular manner. This is not a declaration of the classroom content being a problem, nor is it exactly saying that the content led to the firing. So what actually is happening?
It turns out that rather than being an infraction that enraged the morality police, this was a case of final-straw internal infractions. The problem was not, as originally detailed, uptight parents taking action against an administrator, it was a refusal by Carrasquilla to follow protocol. It was the policy of the school to simply notify parents ahead if there was going to be any material possibly seen as objectionable, and the nude artwork being studied was considered to be thus. So notification ahead was protocol, not eradicating a classic artwork.
In fact, despite the blaring headline, CNN included this rather disqualifying quote from Barney Bishop, the board administrator dealing with the principal. “She was not let go because of Michelangelo’s David lesson,” he said.
Furthermore, Carrasquilla changed her own version of events that she had detailed for the Florida news outlet. Instead, she describes a rather contentious relationship with the board during her tenure, one she seems to allude to having as much to do with herself.
Carrasquilla, the former principal at Tallahassee Classical School, told CNN that things had been escalating over the past year. “My board chair has not been happy with me,” she told CNN, adding that she did not always follow every policy and procedure.
(Okay, Jeff, you are cleared.)
Barney Bishop even attests that not only was this the case, but the principal was already more or less on her way out due to her past actions.
Agreeing with Carrasquilla’s assessment, Bishop told CNN that over time it had become evident the school needed to go in a different direction and with different leadership, and he had expressed that to her on many occasions.
He went on to say that displaying images of Michaelangelo’s David is something they have taught for years, and will continue to do so. “We aren’t trying to ban the picture,” he said about David. “We think it’s beautiful.”
And here is where the CNN presentation gets to be so cagey. The headline is technically accurate; Carrasquilla was let go after the statue lesson was presented, but she was not fired because of this lesson. So by thus hedging, the news outlet can claim to have not misled readers…even as they present things in just the right fashion to still appear to be slamming DeSantis over repressed school policies.
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