Deflect the blame

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blame the media.

It's a popular strategy for dealing with scandal, and it can sometimes be very effective.

A married college football coach gets caught exchanging hundreds of possibly inappropriate text messages with a television news personality via a state-owned cell phone? Blame the media.

A local pastor who has injected himself into the middle of a civic debate has a criminal past that might tinge his credibility? Blame the media.

A Northwest Arkansas family that makes millions of dollars off its "wholesome" reputation is rocked by revelations of sexual abuse? Blame the media.

I could go on and on with examples large and small. It's fairly predictable, that whenever someone in the spotlight (a spotlight often created by the media, by the way) finds themselves being cast in a negative light, they or their supporters will attempt to deflect the blame by pointing a finger at whoever shined a light in a dark corner and uncovered the scandal.

It's not logical, it's hypocritical, and to a trained professional journalist, it's pretty darn annoying.

Who really deserves more blame in the current scandal involving the Duggar family of "19 Kids and Counting" fame? Is it the journalists who broke the story after verifying it through public records? Or is it the family member who admits (though not in so many words) to sexually abusing five young girls? Is it the journalists who broke the story so that the people who tune in each week to admire the family's wholesome image could have a better understanding of the people they are watching? Or is it the parents who did their best to sweep the whole affair under the rug so as not to spoil their wholesome image and potentially affect their money-making ability? Not logical.

By the way, how is it that this family become so popular? How is it that the family name has become so recognizable? Television, you say? The media? So, these parents used the media to build fame and wealth? And now their supporters are blaming the media for reporting the truth? Hypocritical.

At the end of the day, the media has a responsibility and an obligation to keep its readers and its viewers informed. Sometimes, doing that isn't fun. Anyone who thinks journalists get a kick out of reporting news that hurts people is simply incorrect.

Had I been the reporter who discovered the Duggar family secret, I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed writing about it. But I would have done it, because I owe it to my readers to share the truth. And it's quite likely that someone would have attempted to make me the villain, simply for doing my job. Pretty darn annoying.

* * *

Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County News. His email address is CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com.