Our own press is ripping us and our Grand Ol Flag to pieces

June 18, 2017

You’re a grand old flag,

You’re a high flying flag

And forever in peace may you wave.

You’re the emblem of

The land I love.

The home of the free and the brave.

Ev’ry heart beats true

‘neath the Red, White and Blue…..

The above lyrics were supposed to be the opening of a Flag Day 2017 column. An observation of events since Flag Day 2016, and a warning that if those of us living under that flag didn’t pay a little closer attention to that George M. Cohan classic and the meaning behind it, we would all wind up sorry.

But by around 7 am EDT my intended warning had turned to an all too real reality.

Within minutes of Ron DeSantis R-Fla and Jeff Duncan R-SC being asked by a stranger whether the men on the baseball field they’d just left were “Republicans or Democrats out there” dozens of shots had been fired and lives would never be the same.

House whip Steve Scalise, R-LA was bleeding out with a leg wound, members of his Capitol Police security team had suffered their own, and the shooter, one James T. Hodginkson was down and on his way to meet his maker.

Each and everyone involved, an American citizen, each and every one shot under the same flag.  What should have been a peaceful practice for a charity baseball game was instead shattered by a hail of bullets triggered by a deep and raging hate.

As the story unfolded throughout the day I thought that perhaps the tragedy would at last bring pause and reflection to just how dangerous and volatile our current political environment.  Sadly, I thought wrong.

By the end of the day the once respected newspaper turned supermarket tabloid Washington Post had thrown out another rabbit hole headline: “Special counsel starts investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say” dripping with “click me, click me, yeh, over here, now, now, click me!” yellow journalism yes, but it worked.

By Thursday morning the story had over 15,000 comments and was driving the national narrative.  Another anonymously sourced, hyped headline “shocker” was dutifully filling millions of minds with a false premise.

Yes, the story that special counsel Robert Mueller III was “interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe” is most certainly “news”.  Yet it is hardly the bombshell, breaking news the narrative implies.

In context, Mueller’s only doing what he should be doing.  He would be derelict of duty if he didn’t interview those officials.  But so eager to push the “Trump is a crook” storyline, the Post and the outlets repeating it ignores that one most crucial fact.

Not even twenty four hours after the Alexandria attack, Morning Joe, the MSNBC program that sets the network tone for the rest of the day, couldn’t pass over the shooting at United States Congressmen fast enough to jump to the Post’s latest Trump story.  Joe Scarborough gave a half-hearted “we’re all on the same team”, talked about an obscure “bi-partisan” education bill with Democrat Harold Ford years earlier, took a weird swipe at mysterious conspiracy theorists making millions, and that was it.

Not to be outdone, the New York Times published an editorial that gave more words dedicated to the lie that Sarah Palin’s 2011 Pac map with generic targets over Congressional districts incited Jared Lee Loughner to shoot Representative Gabby Giffords than it did condemning the shooter.

What the Times did not publish was a single word about the hate and vitriol coming from the left side of the political aisle since last November’s election.

For our leading national media outlets to flat out ignore that these past 7 months of pushing nothing but “Trump is not my President”, Russian collusion theories, and romanticizing “Anti-Fa” terrorists as “protesters, has not had a negative effect on this nation is beyond travesty. It is a disgrace to the very ideals that Cohan’s Grand Ol Flag represents.

That flag is more than stars on a field, stripes on a cloth.

That flag represents the single most important event since the birth of Christ, the American Revolution.  And with it, the idea that government is of the people, not of itself.

That flag is us. And right now our very own press is ripping it, and us, to shreds for the sake of internet clicks and political agenda.

Lord only knows what’s left come Flag Day 2018.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column was first published in the June 18th, 2017 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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