Third Party & Independents Archives

Journalistic Sensationalism

Why do journalists feel the need to sensationalize SO MUCH? Take the following example of this Reuters/Yahoo headline:

Three Yale students arrested for burning U.S. flag

This headline clearly implies that some university students were arrested for protesting something by burning the flag. After clicking on the link to the story the viewer sees a Reuters’ file photo image of a U.S. flag being burned at a protest, another misleading depiction. And what's more, at the time of my stumbling upon this article, there was an imbedded interactive poll asking readers if they thought burning the flag should be illegal. After reading the actual story it turns out it was just a case of arson and has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue of flag burning.

The issue of flag burning is a divisive one in our nation. On one side of the argument there are those who believe the flag is a symbol of our country and that it must not be desecrated in such a way. On the other there are those who believe the very foundation of our freedom rests on the right to free speech and argue that this act falls under those protections. Regardless of which side of the debate one falls, the obvious intent of this headline was to play on those emotions to get the surfer to click on the link and read the story… and I fell for it.

Turns out this story was nothing more than one of three hooligans setting fire to someone else’s piece of property that was hanging from that someone else’s house, thereby endangering the house and those occupants inside. The three hooligans were caught by police and arrested on various charges, including arson. In interviewing the three suspects, the police discovered they were not protesting anything, as the headline implied, and they even acknowledged that it was a “dumb thing to do”. This story’s headline should have read “Three Yale students arrested for arson” and been kept on page seven of the local paper where it belongs.

Posted by Doug Langworthy at April 6, 2007 9:36 PM
Comments
Comment #215381

Well, by appearances it doesn’t seem to be really a case of simple flag-burning or arson.

You have to wonder why three students, one whose family is from Pakistan and one whose family is from Afghanistan, suddenly decide to trespass on somebody’s property and set fire to a US flag hanging from the house. Their claim that there is no dimension of political protest to such strange behavior doesn’t pass the smell test. If anything, it sounds like more like some variety of half-witted minor league terrorism.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 6, 2007 10:25 PM
Comment #215394
Why do journalists feel the need to sensationalize SO MUCH?

Umm… To sell ads?

LO, I can’t imagine why Said Hyder Akbar was involved. He’s a US citizen and staunch supporter of US involvement in Afghanistan. Read his book, “Come Back to Afghanistan”. It’s inspirational.

I suspect this was a drunken prank.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 6, 2007 11:38 PM
Comment #215443

No doubt about it.
If only the MSM would concentrate on more substantive issues that government continues to ignore, which the majority of Americans will suffer the painful consequences.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 7, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #215448

It sound to me like three punks need to be put in prison for around 20 years then deported.
I’m waiting for someone to try to defend their actions because there was the flag involved. Weary Willie has already blamed Bush. So that’s taken care of. Now the free speech crowd needs to speak up and claim that it’s OK to set the on fire, regardless of the fact it’s attached to a house, because the Supreme Court has ruled it’s OK to burn the flag. And how dare the owner of the house fly the flag and not expect it to be burnt.
Even with the Supreme Court ruling it’s still illegal to destroy or damage someone else’s property. And it sure don’t sound like the flag was there’s.
If I was the arresting officer I’d have found out it anyone was in the house and charged these three punks with attempted murder too.
Once again the MSM is trying to devide the Nation by trying to make an issue where there aint one.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 7, 2007 12:26 PM
Comment #215461

Arson is a crime and should be punished.
Even burning a flag is polluting and perhaps should be illegal for that reason.
But making it illegal because it is a symbol is not worth getting worked up about.
I personally wouldn’t think of burning a U.S. flag, but it’s not an actionable offense unless it is damaging someone else, or their rights.
Why do people want to focus on this sort of thing, instead of more substantive issues?
Peoples’ patriotism ought to be strong enough to ignore it.
We’ve got much bigger problems to address, and this divisive sensationalism isn’t helping.
Republicans are the worst about this flag burning nonsense. It looks awfully hypocritical when you look at the behavior of our illustrious Congress persons.
Haven’t they got better things to do?
If people really want to show their patriotism, they ought to put this nonsense aside and focus on more important things … otherwise, before too long, they may not even have a nation to wave a flag for.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 7, 2007 2:21 PM
Comment #215464

It two very stupid foreigners and one even dumber naturalized American. Imagine if an American goes to Afghanistan and burns a Koran or goes to Greece and pees on the Parthenon. It would probably be thought of as a political incident. In the case of the Koran I am reasonably certain they would have killed him.

I think we are especially aware of this because of Yale’s poor behavior in the recent past re the Taliban spokesman and general PC foolishness.

Posted by: Jack at April 7, 2007 2:40 PM
Comment #215565

Our flag can be a symbol of greatness we can achieve or, a symbol of failure to be great. When I see the flag being burned, I know what it symbolizes for the burners, and what it symbolizes for our potential. That is what makes burning it such an immensely powerful act. Flag burning will cease to be a meaningful message when everyone does it. Till then, its potency as an act of condemnation of failure to live up to our ideals remains high.

And America is increasingly failing to live up to her ideals. The polls show it, our lack of successes in the world show, our debt shows it, and our political system’s failure to address current and future needs demonstrate it.

We can waste time and effort debating burning the flag which gets us nowhere, or we can set about to living up to our ideals.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 8, 2007 3:20 PM
Comment #215595

Ron Brown,
Do you ever feel like Don Quixote tilting against windmills?

Posted by: gergle at April 8, 2007 5:35 PM
Comment #215696

“Do you ever feel like Don Quixote tilting against windmills?”

I’m sure he does, but being right makes it bearable and worthwhile.

Posted by: tomd at April 9, 2007 12:50 PM
Comment #215706

Doug, just look at a few of the reactions to flag burning right here in this thread. That’s why they sensationalized this story — because they know this is certain to rile up the flag idolizers to the nth degree.
After reading the article in question, I was personally amazed they actually put these three guys in hand cuffs AND leg irons over a stupid (probably drunken) prank. I’ve always thought of leg irons as only being necessary for the most violent of criminals.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 9, 2007 1:54 PM
Comment #215757

gergle

Ron Brown,
Do you ever feel like Don Quixote tilting against windmills?

Yeah, but I have thick skin and it don’t bother me any. After all I have the truth on my side.
Besides, after dealing with folks with partisan blinders on just about all my adult life, I’m used to it. After all they do hate to here the truth.


Adrienne
Leg irons? Where in the article did it say they were put in leg irons? Once again the left is spinning to suite their slant on things.
Your right about it being a stupid prank though. The things your failing to see though is that:
1. The flag didn’t belong to them. The Supreme Court may have legalize flag burning. But it did legalize vandalism. Burning someone else’s flag is vandalism. And vandalism isn’t free speech. It’s a crime.
2. The flag was attached to a house. But then what’s someones home burning down just so some punks can burn the flag flying from it right?
The liberal press is making a big deal over this in order to keep us at each others throats. That way we won’t pay attention to how Congress is screwing everything up.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 9, 2007 6:49 PM
Comment #215758

That should be:
But it didn’t legalize vandalism.
Not:
Bit it did legalize vandalism.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 9, 2007 6:51 PM
Comment #215762

Ron, toward the bottom of the article it says:

Police gave no indication why they set fire to the flag. The trio acknowledged it was a “dumb thing to do” when questioned by police, the New Haven Register reported.

They appeared in court in leg irons and handcuffs, the newspaper said.

“The liberal press is making a big deal over this in order to keep us at each others throats.”

Oh sure, and your calling it the “liberal press” is a recipe for perfect togetherness and understanding.

“That way we won’t pay attention to how Congress is screwing everything up.”

I’m not so sure people aren’t paying much closer attention these days, Ron. After the 109th Congress the nation obviously believed that we’d been screwed for long enough, and accordingly ousted the GOP, and voted in the Dems.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 9, 2007 7:10 PM
Comment #215774

Adrienne
Missed the part on the leg irons. My bad.


I’m not so sure people aren’t paying much closer attention these days, Ron.

If they were they’d be screaming to high Heaven over Pelosi’s stupid stunt of going to Syria and undermining this country. And even the liberals that I’ve talked to that know about it tell me she pulled a stupid one there.
They’d also be screaming to high Heaven about Congress attaching deadlines to appropriation bills for the troops.
Of course the press has played all this stupidity down. After all if the voters knew about it the Democrats wouldn’t be able to get elected as dog catchers.

Posted by: Ron Brown at April 9, 2007 7:46 PM
Comment #215804

Ron, “my bad” doesn’t cut it. You said:
“Once again the left is spinning to suite their slant on things.”
But you hadn’t even read the article before saying that to me. In my view, this means you should apologize a bit more sincerely. I know I would.

“If they were they’d be screaming to high Heaven over Pelosi’s stupid stunt of going to Syria and undermining this country.”

I don’t think Pelosi going to Syria to talk was something that undermines this country. (Btw, why isn’t anyone talking about the Republican who went to Syria to talk?) NOT talking to other countries is what undermines America. Bush’s foreign policy is that we don’t even attempt to have a dialogue. Now that’s stupid.

Posted by: Adrienne at April 9, 2007 11:08 PM
Comment #215928
Btw, why isn’t anyone talking about the Republican who went to Syria to talk?

That should be Republicans. There were four of them that talked to Assad within days of Pelosi — and all of them said the same things Pelosi said.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 10, 2007 5:02 PM
Post a comment