Sloppy Journalism

Yesterday, Steve Inskeep did a beautiful job of interviewing and fact-challenging a Steve Bannon apologist, Joel Pollak, on Morning Edition. On the same day, gothamist.com laid the proverbial egg.

An adjunct professor at Rutgers, Kevin Allred, was interviewed for an article about intimidation in the Age Of Trump.  He is suspected of posting inflammatory Twitter statements and saying alarming things in class.  A link to the article appears at the end of this post, describing how he was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The two tweets in question (yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds) have been deleted from his feed because Twitter temporarily suspended his account and ordered him to remove the posts.  No screenshots of those posts appear in Gothamist’s story.  If we just read the Gothamist report we don’t know the content of the statements that caused trouble for him.

After viewing other sites, I found screenshots of the alleged Twitter posts that got the college instructor into trouble.  The term “alleged Twitter posts” is appropriate because I don’t know if the screenshots I saw on the other site are real.  They won’t be shared here because they can’t be verified.

If you read the Gothamist article carefully, you’ll notice something is missing.

With the election of Donald Trump, we must be especially careful to engage our critical thinking skills when we read or hear anything which stirs up our emotions.  A huge number of people have posted comments on this story, and many of those comments are adrenaline-driven.

I also dropped the ball when I saw the Gothamist piece, and posted a supportive-but-naive opinion which I deleted later.  Then I replaced it with something else, only slightly better informed.  Maybe that one should be deleted, too.

Bottom line:  We do have a right to delete statements we regret. However, if those statements are “issues of conflict” and we lose the documentation we can’t expect a decent news outlet to report on our plight.  If copies of the tweets weren’t available — and verifiable — Gothamist should either have included a formal disclaimer or left the whole story alone.

http://gothamist.com/2016/11/16/nypd_rutgers_professor.php

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