America just got its best look ever at the true face of “fake news” when journalists set their sights on a group of teenagers from Kentucky.
The story of the great Covington Catholic High School hoax came hot on the heels of another fake news scandal. Just days before, Buzzfeed News printed an anonymously-sourced story about my father, the President of the United States, committing a federal felony and telling Michael Cohen to lie before Congress. The story was so fake that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s own office thought it was their duty to step in and inform the public of its inaccuracy.
Undaunted by that humiliation, liberal journalists and professional left-wing activists rushed to judgment about the Covington students the very next day, depicting them as unrepentant racists and even calling for people to dox, harass, and attack them.
My father and I are used to enduring these sorts of outrageous attacks from liberal journalists. We’ve been public figures for decades, and we know how these people operate.
CNN, for instance, ran an equally fake story about me last August, in which their own source for the story went on the record admitting that he lied to them and the story was untrue. Did CNN have the honor to apologize to me for running a false story? Of course not. In fact, they refused even to retract it! The year before that, they ran a false story claiming that Wikileaks gave me advance knowledge about Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails. Once again the story was untrue, and at least this time CNN walked the story back, but only after they spent a full day spreading the lie non-stop to their audience.
While public figures like my father and I are prepared to push back against their false narratives, the same can unfortunately not be said for the children of Covington Catholic High School, who were pulled into the public spotlight against their will by liberal partisans attempting to use them as political weapons to fight their radical, left-wing culture war.
My father and I are both often criticized for using the term “fake news” to describe the openly biased mainstream media, but at the end of the day, it is not we who are the true victims, even if we are typically the intended targets. The real victims are ordinary Americans, who lack the power or know-how to defend themselves against the media’s ruthless attacks. And the Covington Catholic fiasco is a perfect illustration of that.
Taking tiny, incomplete video clips at face value and uncritically reprinting the accounts of left-wing activists, journalists from virtually every major news outlet in this country, and many from overseas, spun a lurid tale of racist, white, teenage boys from Covington Catholic High School branching off from the March for Life to “surround” and “harass” a helpless Native American Vietnam veteran. The coverage particularly emphasized the “Make America Great Again” hats the boys were wearing, which many reporters and commentators seemed to treat as implicit confirmation of their interpretation.
We’re talking about CNN, The Washington Post, the BBC — the very top tier of “respectable journalism.” They printed this story as the gospel truth, unleashing one of the most disgusting online hate mobs in American history. The boys’ faces were plastered around the internet as the face of “white privilege.” Celebrities and journalists joined in the frenzy on social media, with some calling for the kids and their parents to be attacked or even killed.
For liberals, this must have seemed like the Holy Grail of news stories, confirming all their favorite stereotypes about conservatives.
The problem — beyond the appalling fact that people were calling for teenagers to be murdered over a viral video — was that absolutely nothing about that story was true. The only shouts that came from the Covington students were “school spirit” chants in response to slurs directed against them by a group of “Black Hebrew Israelites,” a wildly racist cult whose M.O. is to scream disgusting slurs at white people — especially people they think look Jewish — and then film their reactions for promotional videos.
CNN would later describe the Black Hebrew Israelites as “African American, young men preaching about the Bible and oppression.”
The Covington students were called “little dirty-a** crackers” in reference to their race, “child-molesting f**gots” on account of their Catholic faith, “future school shooters,” and worse. They were told to “go back to Europe,” that America isn’t for white people. The original reports did not include that crucial information. Nor did they mention that Nathan Phillips, the Native American activist some video clips show in an apparent standoff with one of the students, approached the group himself.
Phillips — who as we learned Tuesday in another series of embarrassing media corrections is not actually a Vietnam veteran, as he originally claimed — was the aggressor. He walked over to get right up in the Covington boys’ faces, banging a drum and chanting.
The teens did not yield. They stood firm. And for that, the fake news tried to ruin their lives.
Let me be perfectly clear. The Covington Catholic High School students did nothing wrong. They went to Washington to express their political views in a peaceful march and ended up being accosted and berated by hate-filled cultists. They responded to the antagonization with remarkable restraint, only to be approached by an activist seeking a confrontation and a useful photo op.
The high schoolers responded more maturely than most of us probably would if someone started beating a drum in our face, and showed far more restraint than the people who called for them to be mutilated and killed. They laughed, smiled, and danced around to their school cheers in the face of vile racial hatred and confrontational activists. They showed poise and reserve in the face of people who despise them.
The fake news media were hell bent on casting them as racist villains, their Catholic school as a breeding ground for hatred, and their families as culpable progenitors of “white privilege,” and in the process, they unleashed a mob so vicious that Covington Catholic closed down over security concerns.
Phillips’ varying accounts of the experience are riddled with inconsistencies and outright falsehoods, yet media outlets overlooked his utter lack of credibility while giving him a platform to slander the students as “beasts” who were exacerbating national divisions with their “hatred.”
From the very beginning, though, this was never really about the students or their behavior. It was about the MAGA hats that several of them were wearing. Liberals become so enraged when they see those simple red caps that they can’t seem to focus on anything other than their hatred for the people who wear them.
Twitter-verified liberal journalist David Klion let the mask slip when the fake narrative was still unchallenged, tweeting that “Wearing a MAGA hat is by definition a racist provocation and anyone who does it should be considered to be harassing any minorities in their general vicinity.”
Now, even after all the facts are out, many “mainstream” outlets are sticking to that exact same line.
“This ‘Make America Great Again’ hat is just as maddening and frustrating and triggering for me to look at as a KKK hood,” one CNN contributor said just a day after her network’s “religion commentator” concluded that the real lesson from this incident is that kids should not be permitted to wear MAGA hats.
Then, to drive the point home, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie had the gall to ask the student whose family was most viciously targeted by the fake news-inspired hate mob, “Do you think if you weren’t wearing that hat this might not have happened or it might have been different?”
The message is clear: don’t let your children publicly support the President if you don’t want the media to make your entire family into a national target for harassment and intimidation.
The point is to cow President Trump’s supporters into submission, to stigmatize and shame them until they can’t even feel safe expressing their political views in public. That’s exactly what the Covington coverage accomplished, at least initially — even Catholic Church leaders and their own teachers reflexively condemned the students before the full story was reported.
That’s why many of us refuse to stop using the term “fake news” to describe certain elements of the establishment media. This sordid affair shows that it’s not he who is their main target; it’s people like the Covington kids who dare to defy the liberal orthodoxy. The real target, in other words, is people like you.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin clearly recognizes the folly of ignoring the truth in pursuit of a partisan narrative, remarking that “The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it.” He’s exactly right.
The fake news is not going to stop after this, though. In 2016, Americans elected my father President, and liberal journalists will never forgive them for it. The media will continue to use their power to belittle and slander anyone who, like the Covington Catholic students, reminds them that tens of millions of voters really do want Donald Trump in the White House.
Every time I’m in Washington, I’m struck by the number of school kids from middle America wearing MAGA hats as they visit their capital city. It makes me beam with pride, but the Covington affair shows just how deeply the same sight upsets the left and their allies in the media. The fake news media were willing to endanger the lives and destroy the reputations of innocent kids and their families just to falsely portray my father’s supporters as bigots.
In spite of all that, I have a message for the Covington kids and every other young Trump supporter across the country:
Wear your MAGA hats with pride, kids. The President will always stand with the American people against the fake news. It’s the only way we, and the truth, will win.
Donald Trump Jr. is the Executive Vice President at The Trump Organization.