I admit it: I’m a sucker for a well-played French horn. And I’ve been a fan of CBS’ Sunday Morning since Charles Kuralt held the reins. That his fellow Charles, the Osgood one, wears a bow tie is a bit dated, but still, the French horn intro is magnificent. It’s very hard to blow a good French horn. [Ed. Note: As I’ve since been informed, it’s a trumpet, not a French horn, which means I’ve been watching for years for the wrong reason. My bad.]
But a segment yesterday morning was shockingly bad. Not because it took an ideological position with which I disagree, but because it was factually vapid. The website write-up began with the discredited “According to the U.S. Justice Department, one in five college women will experience some kind of sexual assault while in school.” Would it be too much to expect that a news organization like CBS be aware that these numbers, which don’t come from the DoJ, have been so thoroughly and utterly debunked that not even the most radical feminist organization will use them anymore?
Perhaps the wording of the segment was chosen for subtlety, to avoid the appearance of being a campaign ad for New York’s junior Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, who was accompanied to the State of Union address by Columbia University’s mattress girl, Emma Sulkowicz, despite the fact that her alleged rapist has been twice exonerated.
I suspect not. The laxity of factual accuracy in this report persuades me that this was ideologically driven, and the wiggly language was a deliberate choice to overcome the fact that it was monumentally one-sided. The report was crafted to misinform while maintaining a minimal level of plausible deniability.
While readers with sufficient interest to follow the facts despite the abusive use of anecdotes designed to appeal to emotion will know better, a report on CBS Sunday Morning will reach millions of viewers. Not just millions, but millions of people who are reasonably thoughtful and, as such, reasonably influential. The sheer number of people made stupider by this report is painful to consider.
In contrast, I got an @ twit yesterday from someone named Francis Walker, linking to a post addressing false rape statistics. It was an exceptional post, thorough, documented, and persuasive, and I strongly commend it to anyone interested in the issue. While I can’t say how many people have read this great post, I feel confident in saying that it is at most a minute fraction of those who watched the insipid segment produced by John R. D’Amelio.
Most bizarrely, the report uses the Rollling Stone/UVA “rape” scandal, a scandal because it’s turned out to be unfounded, as if it actually happened, with the caveat that even though it’s “now discredited” (so why raise it?), “it’s helped fuel a national conversation about sexual assault on campus.” No, it has not. What it has fueled is a national conversation about the false claims, the lack of due process, the lies being fed the public, to promote an ideological agenda that has no factual basis.
They left that part out. To the extent the Rolling Stone/UVA scandal began a return to sanity elsewhere, not on CBS. Not this Sunday Morning. Not to the millions of viewers who weren’t paying close attention to the harm this ideology was doing, so that they knew that the segment was factually empty.
The media is a very powerful tool, to be used to inform people or make them stupider. CBS grossly abused this tool by airing this segment, and there will be millions upon millions of people who will now believe themselves knowledgeable about these issues for having watched it.