This week I was invited on Fox-2’s “Let it Rip” to discuss a range of issues of the day, in particular from an image, reputation and media standpoint. The strange case of Jussie Smollett led the broadcast and, as facts continue to unfold, it says a lot about who we currently are as a society including how we consume media and form and express opinions publicly.
As I mentioned on the show, we have become very quick to rush to judgment before all of the facts are in. Studies show we have become a nation of headline readers, spending very little time actually reading a full news story. At the same time, media outlets are under intense pressure to beat the competition to the punch in breaking news aimed at attracting eyes and clicks. This can often lead to a publish now and ask questions later dynamic, coupled with a sensational headline.
We also get so much of our news and information today from social media including Facebook where, we now know, we receive feeds tailored in large part to our individual belief systems. This can lead to a lack of balance in viewpoints on a particular matter or position. There can then be, as we have written about in the past, a propensity for a groundswell or “mob mentality” to form on social whereby individuals can be quickly vilified en mass.
Both the Smollett case and that of the Covington students clearly demonstrate how quickly we can form opinions too soon and that things are not always, at first glance, what they seem. And, when one also considers the “MAGA” hat component in both cases, we once again see just how politically and socially charged our times are and how they play a key role in what we think and how. Jack Webb had it right in “Dragnet.” What we need are: “Just the facts, ma’am,” including time for both careful gathering and thoughtful consideration.
First and foremost are the politically and racially charged times we are living in.