Since the deadly shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14 several students have made the rounds on talk shows and news programs, which is fine. We all support the victims and witnesses of the shooting coming forward and talking about their experiences and expressing their feelings and opinions.
But that doesn’t mean students, like David Hogg, shouldn’t be corrected when they try to make their points with false information. Those in the media should show compassion, but deference to the point of outright nonsense going unchallenged by the journalists interviewing them does no favors for the teens and is irresponsible journalism.
Hogg and others aren’t only speaking about their experience but are being treated like — and indeed presenting themselves — as policy advocates and activists. As such, incorrect statements deserve pushback.
On Monday morning, Hogg appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe where he said the following and went unchallenged by anyone on the panel:
“And I want to point something out. That football coach, Coach Feis was a security guard and he was protecting those students. He is one of the people that stepped in unlike those cowardly Broward County Sheriff’s officials honestly. I fully support law enforcement and we always should. Without them I wouldn’t be able to speak here today. None of us would. We wouldn’t be able to have a functioning democracy where everybody can practice their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Sadly, these are a few individuals that did not conduct their job correctly, but I don’t think it’s right that Governor Rick Scott is trying to blame this on the bureaucracy in an effort to get re-elected.“
The journalists on the panel abdicated their responsibility when they allowed Hogg’s premise to go uncorrected. Do they need to go after him like they would a politician who might offer the same? Absolutely not. These kids should not get berated. But they should get corrected early and often.
Someone on the Morning Joe panel — in particular, Joe Scarborough, (did you know Joe is a former member of Congress??) should’ve been prepared to point out :
1) Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was elected — like all other Sheriffs in Florida and therefore, not a part of Gov. Rick Scott’s so-called “bureaucracy.” Scott has the authority to remove Israel, but whatever issues the Broward department have, is not in Scott’s purview.
2) Gov. Scott is midway through his second and final term as governor. Governor’s in Florida have two-term limits. He’s not running for re-election. While it’s been speculated Gov. Scott may run for the U.S. Senate, he hasn’t announced or made any official statements on the matter.
Those in the media are setting these teens up by not offering gentle corrections now. They have experienced trauma, but it doesn’t make the immune from facts. The longer journalists allow these statements to slide and get repeated over and again, the shorter the public’s
It is commendable that David decided to get involved in the political process. Regardless of the tragic circumstances that launched his activism, it doesn’t give him carte blanche to say whatever he wants without challenge. Joe Scarborough has a responsibility push back on statements that are not true or nonsensical.