America News Analysis

Why were journalists so quick to blame the Covington boys?

North of 200,000 people converged on Washington last Friday to stand for the sanctity of life, and all the media told us was a story about a bunch of “racist teens” in MAGA hats bullying a Native American veteran.

The M4L has faced systemic issues with a hostile press. The usual complaint is that the media ignore it, though it is one of the largest political demonstrations in the country. But as we discovered last Friday, they will cover it if there’s an opportunity to demonise pro-lifers.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, there was a confrontation between a group of Catholic schoolboys and a variety of counter-protesters, including a Native American group and a few Black Hebrew Israelites, who are designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The video that first emerged showed Nathan Phillips, a Native American man, playing a drum in front of a silent Catholic student from Kentucky, surrounded by other students chanting. Twitter users shared the video believing that it showed the students mocking the elderly veteran. But subsequent footage emerged showing that Phillips had approached the students first, and that the boy had not “blocked” him, as Phillips previously claimed to the Washington Post. Phillips identifies with the American Indian Movement, a fringe native sovereignty movement.

A number of outlets that initially condemned the students’ actions – including National Review, known as “the Bible of American conservatism” – have retracted their statements as more evidence emerged.

“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,” wrote Robby Soave at Reason, adding that “this is shaping up to be one of the biggest major media misfires in quite some time.”