The Media Malpractice in Covering Covington Kids Is Why You Should Donate to Reason Today

Too many journalists are abandoning verification for the narrative-confirming social media scrum. Reason is the antidote.


We are about to get to some Soave-tastic reasons for the season of sending your tax-deductible donations to Reason's annual webathon, BUT FIRST: Matching grant challenge time!

Beloved Reason donors Kerry and Helen Welsh (the former of whom is also a board member of the nonprofit foundation that makes all of our work possible), have just this minute announced a challenge grant—the next $25,000 worth of pledges will be matched with a donation from the Welshes for…$25,000. Build it ("it" being…$25,000 worth of gifts!), and they will double.

Won't you please donate to Reason right the hell now?

So: On the afternoon of January 19, 2019, something happened that happens literally every day in the nation's capital: Some high school students visited the Lincoln Memorial, some demonstrators demonstrated, some clumps of strangers interacted with other clumps of strangers, different people wore different costumes. None of it was particularly newsworthy.

And yet that soon became about all the media was talking about. Why? Because a snippet of video was posted to YouTube showing a pale-faced Covington Catholic high school kid in a MAGA hat standing impassively with an occasional smile just inches away from an elderly Native American veteran playing a drum. Covers thus established, books were then judged.

"Video Of Kentucky Students Mocking Native American Man Draws Outcry," went the headline at National Public Radio. "The students' display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration," tweeted Rep. Deb Haaland (D–N.M.). Added the ever-helpful Howard Dean: "#CovingtonCatholic High School seems like a hate factory to me. Why not just close it?"

editoWith the whole media world consumed with the symbolism of the Lincoln Memorial exchange, Reason Senior Editor Robby Soave did something that apparently did not occur to 99 percent of the journalists talking about it: Namely, journalism.

The video that went viral was less than four minutes long, but there were nearly two hours of publicly available footage. Soave—lean in close, journalism students!—actually watched all the contextual video. Result? A full 24 hours after some no-name kid and his high school were widely derided as irretrievable racists, Soave concluded: "The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native American Veteran." Excerpt:

Far from engaging in racially motivated harassment, the group of mostly white, MAGA-hat-wearing male teenagers remained relatively calm and restrained despite being subjected to incessant racist, homophobic, and bigoted verbal abuse by members of the bizarre religious sect Black Hebrew Israelites, who were lurking nearby. […]

Phillips put himself between the teens and the black nationalists, chanting and drumming as he marched straight into the middle of the group of young people. What followed was several minutes of confusion: The teens couldn't quite decide whether Phillips was on their side or not, but tentatively joined in his chanting. It's not at all clear this was intended as an act of mockery rather than solidarity. […]

It bears repeating that Phillips approached him, not the other way around.

And that's all there is to it. Phillips walked away after several minutes, the Black Hebrew Israelites continued to insult the crowd, and nothing else happened.

You can judge for yourself.

Was that so hard? Apparently. Even after the exculpatory evidence had been widely circulated by Soave and others, far too many journalists—including the editor in chief of Mother Jones—just kept doubling down.

Soave's original post drew a staggering 1.5 million page views, was cited in The Washington Post, was tweeted out by CNN's Jake Tapper, and was credited by television hosts Meghan McCain and Greg Gutfeld for changing their initial impressions of the incident. (Soave was also, to be sure, roundly criticized and even psychoanalyzed for his troubles.) This was an example, in the words of John Stossel, of how independent journalists are beating the mainstream media.

Future historians will likely look back at the Covington Kerfuffle as an encapsulation of our era of political polarization, social media controversy, and inflammatory racial discourse. But I would like to highlight it here as a primo example of why you should donate to Reason right the hell today. Not because we side ever and always with the MAGA-hat-wearers in this universe—indeed, Soave and others criticized Covington student Nick Sandmann's libel lawsuit against The Washington Post. But rather, in an era when high-toned journalism outlets increasingly evacuate the field of fact-verification for the lurid spectacle of professional partisan wrestling, Reason specializes in corrective, well, journalism. When they go hot-take, we go cold.

Let's look at some media panics that Reason was quick off the draw this year in expressing skepticism about, or just flat-out debunking. The international human-trafficking ring at a Florida massage parlor frequented by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The deadly scourge of "The Momo Challenge." The mass burn-off of the Amazon rainforest. Trump rallies increasing hate crimes by 226 percent. Kids growing horns because of smartphones. The call by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) to construct a surveillance state against white people. The MAGA-inspired hate-violence against actor Jussie Smollett. We do this work every damn day.

As long as there are alluring narratives, confirmation biases, and lazy journalists, there'll be a need for Reason's fact-based counter-programming. Which is to say, every day, we need Reason just a little bit more.

Won't you please donate to Reason right the hell now?

NEXT: Reason's 2019 Gift Guide

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  1. Wait, are you telling me the Covington kids were not in fact vaping? I was sure they were vaping.

    1. I wonder if it is possible to donate to support just Robby Soave’s work?

      I definitely don’t want any of my money coming anywhere close to Shikha Dalmia, Billy Binion and many other “writers”.

    2. Typical “modern” journalism. Fuck the facts, sell papers, and years later tell the truth when no one cares anymore. I would no more trust the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc. to report accurately without lies than I would think Hillary Clinton trustworthy.

  2. Reason supports coercive monopolies – like the state.
    There is no way I support people who claim to support a free market but then support coercive monopolies when it comes to political power.

    Not only does Reason oppose a free market by doing this but also the concept of freedom of association,.

    1. hpearce: First, you are wrong. Second, you state ZERO facts to support our comment, Third: STFU.

  3. Sorry Reason….are you not guilty of media malpractice yourselves? And you ask for money. Little wonder the money is not coming in.

    Please see Dalmia, Brown, Binion & Boehm as Exhibits A-D in your own malpractice.

    1. They ask for money in TAX DEDUCTIBLE “contributions”, yet claim to be a Libertarian web site.
      Go figure.

      1. Do you drive on government roads?


          You literally go straight to the ROADS! argument that is so frequently invoked by left wing retards that it is a punchline in libertarian circles.

          Here, let me help you with your next devastating comeback:

          Why don’t you just move to SOMALIA!!!!!!!!

          1. I think you misunderstood.

          2. Yes, he punchlined it right over your head.

        2. Do you drive on government roads?

          I drive on the roads my tax dollars pay for.

          As does everyone who pays taxes.

          Why do you idiots think this is some kind of trump card?

    2. They certainly are guilty of media malpractice themselves.

      Routinely they’ll run essays on the police going nuts on a ‘shoplifter’, and you have to investigate the case yourself to find out that the police didn’t go nuts until the shoplifter trying to kill them in a pitched gun battle.

      Or somebody doesn’t get compensated for the full value of their house, and you have to look into it to find out they’d lowballed the value of their house to save on their taxes and insurance, they were compensated fully for what they had claimed the house was worth.

      Don’t pretend you’re innocent of this stuff. Some of your regular contributors have become laughing stocks among the readers they’re so bad about it.

      1. you have to look into it to find out they’d lowballed the value of their house to save on their taxes and insurance

        Huh. How can one asses their own house’s value to lower taxes and insurance? Please tell me this secret, because I’d love to lower mine.

        1. You can haggle. You can go down to the assessor’s office to dispute the assessment.

          Speaking of which, I have a property assessment I just received that is double the tax of last year. I will be going to the courthouse to dispute it.

          1. What if I sold my house to my nephew, then he sold it back to me a year later, both at 50% of local market value? The tax assessors will want to use local market value but you can argue with a bill of sale.

            1. Can’t speak for all states, but in Michigan that’s called chasing sales and is not the proper way to assess property. In fact, if the assessor is aware that it’s a sale between relatives below market value it won’t be part of the sales study at all.

    3. Brown, Binion, and Boehm are fine.

      Dalmia, on the other hand, is a goddamn awful writer and no friend to libertarianism.

      1. “Binion is fine”

        Binion just knowingly and willfully lied his ass off in his last article, in a deliberate attempt to misrepresent testimony given by a law professor.

        1. I haven’t read that one. Maybe later today.

    4. Come on, man. The real money isn’t with shitkicking White male Trumpians. The real money is with those Silicon Valley kids who are microdosing on acid. Like they need money from rubes like you… pfft.

      1. You should kill yourself. You would be much better off.

    5. Another moron heard from. Atlas Shits. He provides ZERO evidence to back up his idiot’s claims, Go back to Russia or whatever “People’s Paradise” you came from you dolt.

  4. What kind of article is this? No copy paste twitter crap? Must be fake.

    1. No kidding! They didn’t even tell me what Vox or Common Dreams thinks about their fundraising drive.

  5. If it doesn’t cite two or more named, verifiable, reliable sources, it is an editorial, not news.

  6. “pale-faced Covington Catholic high school kid”

    Racial slur?

    1. Nope. No mention of blacks, therefore not racist.

    2. Funny story I was just reading:
      49ers radio broadcaster was just suspended for comments regarding Lamar Jackson. He, a former linebacker, noted that the Ravens dark jerseys and Jackson’s dark skin make it hard to track the dark football when the Ravens run options/fakes. A half step hesitation from a defender against a player of Jackson’s immense ability is fatal – he’s gone.
      Interesting observation, not without merit.
      The broadcaster has since apologized.
      But I wonder if teams won’t take this into consideration in the future.
      Baker Mayfield should definitely start wearing brown sleeves and brown gloves when they wear their home unis.
      Other teams with darker jerseys – Raiders, Jags, Texans, Jets, Steelers, Bengals, Eagles, Falcons (who need to ditch the red in general), Saints, Vikings, Bears, Seahawks – should follow suit.
      Game of inches

      1. The Baltimore Darkies? It has a certain ring.

        1. The Cleveland Jigaboos?

        2. Yep, Tom, just as you have a certain ring of stupidity. GTFU you twerp.

      2. “The broadcaster has since apologized.”

        Big mistake, blood in the water and all that. He’s toast.

        1. I think it’ll blow over – is what I was going to say, because the 49ers are winning and there’s a lot of good football going on right now… but then I checked ESPN and it’s their top story.
          So yea, could be bad for him.
          ESPN certainly never misses an opportunity to race bait

          1. All I saw was them beatty white eyes!

            1. No, Rufus the Moron, you didn’t, but you apparently didn’t ever see a dictionary, as you would not look like the dope you are for not being able to spell “beady” correctly.

          2. ESPN deserves to go out of business. The only reason they can hang on is that their channels are forced on everyone who subscribes to cable or satellite TV

      3. How do you explain New England? (Other than with deflated balls)

        1. Ow. That sounds like a particularly unpleasant disease.

      4. Tim Ryan played Dline for the Bears (90-93).

        He got suspended by the 9ers for one game. He is generally a nice guy and this was taken out of context

        1. It’s a legitimate observation, and players such as Richard Sherman backed him up on it

  7. Don’t spend your time and money on liberal media that demonize Trump and his supporters. Spend your time and money on cosmotarian media that demonize Trump and his supporters, so the poverty-stricken writers of Reason can land a better-paying job at one of those liberal media outlets.

    1. Yeah, Nick’s leather jacket and neatly coiffed hair just scream poverty.

    2. so the poverty-stricken writers of Reason can land a better-paying job at one of those liberal media outlets

      Most of Shikha, Sullum, Boehm, Binion and even Welch’s articles lately seem to be audition pieces for WaPo and the NYT’s. All very much bien pensant, full of TDS, and only incidentally libertarian if at all.

      The Jacket has TDS too, but isn’t as blatantly dishonest in his arguments, and doesn’t appear to be job hunting.

  8. “Reason Senior Editor Robby Soave did something that apparently did not occur to 99 percent of the journalists talking about it: Namely, journalism.”

    Wish this was the standard practice and not the unicorn for Reason. It is obvious from all the Billy Binion write ups the last few weeks he never made it past excerpts of opening statements.

    1. Robby’s journalism in that instance stands out just as much against Reason’s usual practice (Stossel excepted) as it does against the rest of the media.
      John Solomon, Sara Carter on the other hand…

      1. As I recall, a lot of the commenters here spoke out about how Robby was doing way better than usual with this case.

  9. FYI, Rep. Haaland is D-N.M., not Colo.

    1. Lol

    2. One of those Western rectangular states…

  10. Go look at the snarky title from the article about the Republicans impeachment report. Now go look at the non-snarky title for the article about democrats impeachment report. Both written by the same author.

    That’s why you’ll never get a dime from me.

    1. At least Reason noted the GOP report that contradicted the Dem report. regular media forgot there was a GOP report

      1. True, Reason is less shitty than the MSM. For now.

        1. Until they get rid of/start moderating the comments.

          I’ll give them that much: They let us point out when they screw up, which is more than most media outlets do.

    2. Leave the immature snark to what’s left of this sorry community.

    3. I’ve heard that in many cases the authors don’t write the headlines, that is left for the editors.

  11. All the good you do in a year is negated by one Dalmia column.

    1. “All the good you do in a year is negated by one Dalmia column.”

      One? Probably not. But surely the 3 or 4 she writes and then the other 8 or 9 she spends 5 minutes copying, changing some sentences around and pasting from those first 3 or 4, do negate a big chuck of Reasons Good writing.

      1. Negate Reasons Good writing? What’s left to negate after take out ENB’s partisan crap and Binion’s sophomoric drivel?

        Yeah, Soave is the real deal. And Stossel. The Jacket’s infected with TDS, but he can still put together a rational argument.

      2. Yes she is a hack, a progressive shill. There is nothing libertarian in her writings.

  12. As long as Sullum, Binion, and Dalmia spew their nonsense at regular intervals, Reason has no standing to criticize anyone over “media malpractice.”

  13. I’m seeing a comment trend. Has any publication ever been more hated by its readers?

    1. We come here for the comments. Reason stopped being a libertarian publication years ago. The writers have become mostly progressives who happen to love drugs and cheap illegal Mexican avocado pickers.

      1. Agreed.

      2. Exactly correct.

        And we can bash them for free.

      3. Sadly true.

      4. I saw Goody Nolan Brown with an avocado picker!

        1. Ha ha ha…nice

      5. I thought it was Mexican ass sex?

        I have no idea but maybe they have to sell papers and you do that by trying to pull in ‘wishy washy’ fair-weather libertarians.

        It’s the way of the world. It’s the great ‘Primo v. Secondo’ debate seen in ‘Big Night’. Do you stick to your principles but go out of business or do you cave in but survive?

        1. Keep up, “avocado picker” is a euphemism.

    2. Nope, which is why most of them left to form their own community a while ago.

      But those of us who stuck around to fight rather than surrendering don’t matter. Welchie Boy and his gang truly wouldn’t care a bit of 99% of those who remain also left for good and every single piece got zero comments.

      The only people who really still matter to Reason are the tiny handful of powerful billionaires that make up their true target audience and are keeping them afloat.

      1. I disagree, I think they write some crap knowing it will get a shitton of comments, and that has to be tied to some ad revenue.

        1. You can defeat that purpose (ad revenue) by using Brave to access the site. Brave is pretty good at screening out shit ads.

  14. The only reason I read here is to hear the debate among the readers in the comments.

    I’m not a libertarian, though I appreciate some of their ideas and viewpoints (though not all). Its one of the only sites I frequently visit just for the comments. The worse the headline and opening paragraph, the better the comments.

    1. Could REASON be the modern online equivalent of “Springtime for Hitler”?

    2. Since you’re not a libertarian, I hope you are aware the comments are not necessarily representative of libertarians. There are a large number of right-wing populists masquerading as libertarians.

      1. //the comments are not necessarily representative of libertarians.//

        Neither are the articles.

        1. The articles are mostly written by a large number of progressives masquerading as libertarians.

      2. Name names, BLPoG, name names!

        1. Well, this Geraje Guzba is new by my recollection but wears a particularly bad costume.

  15. Too many journalists are abandoning verification for the narrative-confirming social media scrum. Reason is the antidote.

    No, Reason is a co-conspirator with TDS.

    1. REASON is one of those medications whose side-effects are worse than the initial malady.

  16. It’s not like Robby’s reporting wasn’t filled with caveats (the kids LITERALLY did absolutely nothing wrong) or that the rest of the staff was consistent with this approach.

    1. Yeah, my impression of how Reason handled the serial slander of the Covington kids is not as favorable as Welch’s.

  17. editoWith the whole media world consumed with the symbolism of the Lincoln Memorial exchange, Reason Senior Editor Robby Soave did something that apparently did not occur to 99 percent of the journalists talking about it: Namely, journalism.

    Welch’s X-Men name is “Edito” (rhymes with Magnito). Truth on the Covington thing. Soave stepped up and nearly faced cancellation!

  18. https://reason.com/2019/02/21/nick-sandmann-covington-lawsuit-libel/

    And you then defended these blatant, viscous smears of children. WaPo and the rest of your buddies were targeting children and calling them racist, when they themselves were guilty of racism.

    You defended that.

    1. What did this viscous smear consist of? K-Y? Semen? Vaginal secretions? Gak? Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. I think I saw Viscous Smear sometime back in the late ’70s. Great band!

  19. editoWith the whole media world consumed with the symbolism of the Lincoln Memorial exchange . . .

    What a hilariously ironic Freudian slip. We gotta donate so you can afford a decent copyeditor, amirite?

  20. Funny how BYODB and I were commenting on this exact thing in the Nunes article yesterday afternoon. If you’re already having to ready your own comments for article ideas, maybe you could just skip the middle man and hire us instead?

    1. They’ve been doing that for at least the 23 months I’ve been visiting

  21. Reason appears to be like a politician here and donation season is the primary. Talk the talk of being against the establishment and for your base readers, but once donation season is over we gotta move to the center broadly defined as whatever the mainstream media says.

  22. And Reason’s “credible” coverage of Kavanaugh is all the reason not to. There is virtually no principle that Reason won’t compromise to protect abortion.

    1. Why isn’t Reason championing their super awesome Impeachment coverage as a reason to donate? Or their open borders position? Curious.

    2. There is virtually no principle that Reason won’t compromise to protect abortion.

      Except open borders. And Orange Man Bad. Open borders > Orange Man Bad > abortion > rational discourse.

    3. The key in the Kavanaugh thing is to understand that “credible” did not mean “seems to accord with objective reality”, but “came from a member of our class, accusing a traitor to it.”

      Sure, every detail of Ford’s testimony that could be checked was contradicted by the available evidence (the testimony of every person she named as a witness, the documentation of her previous account of the incident, and the contemporary calendar kept by Kavanaugh of what parties he went to when).

      But she is a college professor from an upper middle class/lower upper class background, and Kavanaugh is a conservative. It’s like a respectable white matron of the Jim Crow South making the accusation that the local lawyer who for some reason is helping register blacks to vote made a crude remark to her. It’s automatically true, even if he can prove he wasn’t in the same state as her at the time of the alleged remark.

      1. Hey now. Not all of her facts were contradicted. We know, for example, that Brett Kavanaugh was at various times in the vicinity of Montgomery County, MD during the early and mid-80’s. We also know…ok yeah that’s it.

        1. That Blasey-Ford bitch was such a khunt!

          Real victims do not wait thirty years.

          Just ask Elizabeth Smart.

  23. Why is Reason asking for donations when they can have sex with people for money? It’s the libertarian way. I think they’re being lazy. Now get out there and make daddy some money.

    1. How much for a night with Robby? Asking for a friend…

      1. The hair’s extra.

  24. Welch, you should probably talk to Root about this. He’s with Alito, that journalists should be beyond defamation lawsuits and not have to prove their case in court.

  25. As long as there are alluring narratives, confirmation biases, and lazy journalists, there’ll be a need for Reason’s fact-based counter-programming.

    Just a random sampling of Reason’s fact-based counter-programming:

    “The Trump Foreign Policy Doctrine? ‘I’m Trump, Bitch'”

    “Conservative candidates pledge to uphold the Christian version of Shariah.”

    “A country that committed the original sin of slavery to forcibly bring foreign labor to America should not be going to such draconian lengths to throw voluntary foreign labor out of America.”

    “Trump Does Not Need Alligators in Moats for a Draconian Anti-Immigration Crackdown—He’s Already Outdoing Ike’s Harsh ‘Operation Wetback'”

    “The Growing Right-Wing Threat to Campus Free Speech”

    “The shocking excesses of Donald Trump’s immigration policies”

    “Authoritarian Rulers Mobilize Private Violence To Advance Their Goals” (referring to Trump)

    “Democrats Need To Talk About Immigrants as Assets, Not Supplicants Needing Handouts.
    They are letting President Trump’s bogus anti-immigration narrative dominate their conversation” (“bogus” — such insight!)

    “Conservative Nationalists, Not Immigrants, Are Having Trouble Assimilating in America”

    “His border lawlessness keeps growing” (Trump again).

    Remember, fellow kids, every dollar sent to Reason supports more insightful counter-programming such as the articles above!

    1. How could I forget my recent favorite insightful counter-programming article:

      “A California Cop’s Body Camera Captured Him Fondling a Dead Woman’s Breasts”.

  26. Begging for money on the back of a humiliated redskin. Have you any shame?

  27. First, stop publishing hysterical claims not backed by evidence — look at your last issue.

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