The importance of using critical thinking skills in a highly sensationalized case like this one to counteract the misinformation by major news agencies in their attempt to skew the facts.
I never heard of the incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020 until the trial began with much publicity surrounding it. I had no knowledge of the details, nor remember hearing much, if anything, about it in the year since it occurred.
But when I watched the following segment from Tucker Carlson, I was prompted to write this latest post for my blog:
I have much respect for Carlson and have probably watched him for about two years or more. As noted above, since I was not familiar with the Kenosha incident until Rittenhouse’s trial began, I have to take Carlson at his word concerning his critical allegation of the unfair manner in which most of the media portrayed this explosive incident.
I was trained as a journalist during high school, starting out as a reporter in my junior year and ending up as the editorial page editor in my senior year. When I lived in Rio Rico, AZ, I wrote several articles for the Nogales International, the local paper in the border town of Nogales, south of Rio Rico. At one time I seriously considered a career in journalism, and several people during my high school years encouraged me in that direction as well, believing I had talent and promise for the craft.
There is no question in my mind that the once noble field of investigative journalism has taken a nose dive. Traditional reporters whose job is to fairly and accurately report on newsworthy stories are ethically obligated to put aside their own prejudices, and biases and draft their stories based on facts alone; they leave their personal opinions out of the story.
There is a place for opinion, of course, in any newspaper, magazine or other type of journalistic outlet, in the “editorial section” where people’s individual takes on a particular issue is featured. This was what I did when I was the editorial page editor on my school newspaper, but one must not confuse reporting with editorializing. The two are as different as night and day.
Both have their important place in a news gathering organization like Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, etc. But today, especially in those news outlets like CNN, traditional reporting (accurately gathering and then unbiasedly reporting the facts on a notable event without injecting one’s opinion into the piece) is now conflated with editorializing and/or reporting on the story with a particular agenda, political persuasion, personal opinion, or pet bias in mind.
For example, if a major news organization is made up of people from a particular political persuasion, say, left of center Democratic, and if the owners of CNN, the “boots on the ground” reporters, and all the talking heads positions are the same, and if the owners wish to make a political point for their worldview using CNN as their personal megaphone, this would be a betrayal of what a traditional news gathering and reporting organization has always stood for.
And this is what is happening with so many once trusted, traditional news agencies: they are becoming not “news reporters” but “news shapers,” spinning almost everything to either find criticism with positions they disagree with or find bias support for their pet agendas by slanting the news in the direction of their favored positions. In other words, they become propaganda machines masquerading as news organizations.
Most thinking people see the obvious danger in this, and if Tucker Carlson is accurate in his opinion piece mentioned above, what America witnessed in the run-up of the trial by most “news” organizations was a highly editorialized and biased version that was purposely inaccurate when the it was presented (packaged) to the general public.
Kyle Rittenhouse, according to Carlson, was presented to the public in a false light by the major news outlets using sketchy “facts” and outright falsehoods to sway their viewing audience of their preconceived narrative. And what might be part of this preconceived narrative? That seventeen year old Republican, white, male militia members and Trump supporters should not be allowed to attend and foment violence against “peaceful” BLM rallies armed with illegal and violent AR-15 assault rifles.
Rittenhouse appears to have been tarred and feathered as a domestic terrorist who crossed state lines with an illegal assault weapon, intent on causing trouble and mayhem with other domestic terrorists (loyal Trump supporters being the only kind of individuals who can qualify as domestic terrorists). I’m not a huge fan of Donald Trump, but I do see how those in the anti-Trump camp like to lump all his supporters into one crazed, violent, assault rifle carrying mob intent on making sure America remains WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).
But facts can be stubborn things, and the facts, as the trial unfolded, proved the liberal media’s preconceived narrative couldn’t pass the sniff test. And the jury evidently agreed as they found him innocent on all charges.
Why do I write this particular post? To emphasize once again that “every story has (at least) two sides,” and if you and I want to be men and women who think correctly and wisely, making sound, fair and judicious decisions as we confront the myriad of often complex scenarios that each of us face on a seemingly continuous basis, we must develop our critical thinking skills, never rushing to judgment on issues until we have calmly and dispassionately viewed them from all relevant perspectives. And realizing we must hear and listen to both sides is fundamental to the thinking process and coming to the correct conclusion of any thorny issue.
Thinking correctly does not come naturally; our minds must be properly and expertly trained. Being emotional beings, our first responses to unfolding events is to view them from our “gut reactions” and from our particular world views. Unfortunately, too many of us come to the table of events armed with personal prejudices, religious persuasions, emotionalism, cultural leanings, and a simple ignorance bred from not understanding what it means to “think correctly.” We do not know that we don’t know what we should know—and this is a dangerous position to be in. There are few things in life more dangerous than a person who knows just enough to be dangerous.
No one is shot out of the womb fully equipped to think correctly. If you believe you are, you are woefully mistaken. Excellent and wise thinkers are not born, they are made, and often helped along and shaped by passing through the crucible of the furnace of life’s trials and tribulations.
In drawing this post to a close, my hope is that my words and thoughts will be taken to heart by some people to reexamine their thinking processes and at least consider they need help in this area. Oftentimes we have no idea we are on a wrong path until someone comes alongside us and points out we are in error. This kind of personal revelation can be shocking and jarring to our souls because we naturally believe we are always right, and to discover we are “off the path,” sometimes far off the path, can be humbling.
But having our eyes opened is a blessing, and sometimes, the path forward is going backward and pinpointing where we went off the track or where we failed to develop the necessary skills to become better people by becoming better thinkers. And it is never too late to learn if we posses the requisite humility to admit we were wrong.