For a few overheated hours on Saturday, a group of boys from a Catholic high school in Kentucky became the most hated figures in America.
Television anchors denounced them as bigots. Journalists with Harvard degrees called them “privileged.” Republican commentators scolded them as bad Christians. Famous actors suggested they should be hunted down and punched in the face. Some on social media called for them to be killed.
The boys stood accused of mocking an elderly self-professed Vietnam veteran, a Native American man, and doing it in shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. The story had no inherent news significance. It didn’t mobilize troops or move markets or reopen the government. But as a symbolic event, it’s hard to remember a moment more galvanizing in Washington.
As they read their Twitter feeds, the leaders of this country were in rare and solemn agreement: These teenage monsters, these remorseless thugs from our backward provinces, were living of examples of all that is rotten and immoral about America. That was the consensus on Saturday. Pretty much everyone agreed with it.
Then, suddenly, the Covington Catholic story exploded -- popped like an overfilled balloon animal. New footage of the event emerged, and it turns out the boys never attacked anyone. In fact, they stood in place as others approached and harassed them. People did indeed scream racial epithets at the Lincoln Memorial over the weekend, but it wasn’t the Catholic kids from Kentucky.
Whatever it is that you saw on that tape, it does not confirm what they were telling you on Saturday on Twitter. Just the opposite. The official story was a lie. Who knows what would have happened to the boys from Covington Catholic High School if that video had never been posted to the Internet? They’d probably be living under assumed names by now.
Instead, the facts exonerated them and implicated their accusers. From brunch tables across Washington, reporters rushed to delete their outraged tweets. Some of them even apologized for passing rash judgment, and good for them.
But amazingly, many others pretended nothing had happened. They didn’t acknowledge the new video. They kept up their original attacks. Being "woke" means never having to say you're sorry.
CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers now says the boys are still guilty of "disrespecting an indigenous elder.” That elder would be Nathan Phillips, the man with the now famous drum. There’s growing evidence that Phillips concocted key elements of his story, as well as parts of his own biography, and that’s he done it before.
The press isn’t rushing to find out. Kirsten Powers doesn’t seem to care, one way or the other. Nor did she explain how exactly the boys disrespected Phillips. Identity politics doesn’t concern itself with details like these. It’s not about individuals, or what actually happened to specific people on a given day. Identity politics is a set of moral judgments about groups. Some groups are always right, no matter what the tape shows.
There’s no sympathy for Covington Catholic in America’s newsrooms. In the mind of your average reporter in Washington, these kids are from a different country. Less than that, actually. They’re from hostile country, a place we must subdue for our own safety.
Laura Wagner didn’t even bother to look at the tape, any of it. Wagner is a reporter at Deadspin, which used to be a sports site before the revolution began. In an article Monday night, Wagner described the boys' behavior at the Lincoln memorial as “a racially-charged frenzy of barely-restrained violence” committed by a “frothing mass of MAGA youth, frenzied and yelling and out of control.”
She went on like this, paragraph after paragraph. And of course, anyone who disagrees with that assessment is a racist. Keep in mind, as you read that, that there is literally nothing in the documentary record –on tape or in the testimony of anyone – to support any of Wagner’s claims. Every word is just made up out of nothing. Imagine if someone was writing things like that about your son.
At Covington Catholic, classes were canceled on Tuesday. Thanks to people like Laura Wagner, there were too many threats. Two seniors from Covington Catholic spoke out in defense of the school.
"There are real consequences for these actions, and it all spews from a 30-second clip taken out of a two-hour video, out of context and people jumping to conclusions before the full story is released," one teen said. "Nobody did their research and it’s now showing."
You’d think somebody, at some point, in media land, would wonder how all this misreporting is affecting the kids who were falsely accused. But no. There’s no sympathy for Covington Catholic in America’s newsrooms. In the mind of your average reporter in Washington, these kids are from a different country. Less than that, actually. They’re from hostile country, a place we must subdue for our own safety.
That’s the attitude. And it may accounts for the left’s embrace of violent rhetoric in the age of Trump.
Back more than a year ago, when CNN anchors publicly defended Antifa, it seemed at the time they might have misspoken. Maybe they didn’t know what Antifa was.
Now it’s clear they knew exactly what Antifa was. Our ruling class has told us they’re fine with punching Nazis. Now, they’ve declared they’re okay with punching children. How long before they’re okay with punching you?
Adapted from Tucker Carlson's monologue from "Tucker Carlson Tonight" on January 22, 2019.