In 2014, The Washington Post cited a study by the Media Insight Project, an initiative of the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, which found that 6 in 10 Americans read the headlines of news stories but nothing more.
That sobering statistic remains true, but in this era of fake news it has taken on a new and far graver importance. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in an article published yesterday at Raw Story under the headline “Sarah Sanders says migrant families deserved to be tear gassed: ‘We’ve encouraged them to follow the law’.”
What makes the story remarkable is that the claim of Sanders’s heartless reaction is never repeated or elaborated on anywhere the article. In fact, her remarks at a White House press briefing on the border crisis tell quite the opposite story. She is quoted for example as saying:
Certainly the White House would never want children to be in harm’s way in any capacity whatsoever. However, that is why we are continuing to encourage people to follow the law and go to ports of entry. …
About the most contentious thing Sanders is quoted as having said during the briefing was that the Obama White House also deployed tear gas on multiple occasions. As noted here, in 2013, pepper spray, officially known as Pava Capsaicin, was deployed a record 151 times. The difference between then and now is that at the time no one batted an eyelash, much less called the president “a terrorist.”
Here is a CNN video that is the basis for Raw Story’s incendiary and wrong-headed title.
Since Raw Story’s bogus headline went live, it has been picked up by some two dozen lesser blogs, which will poison the minds of their own readers. And we wonder why in America we can’t have nice things.