You'd think the WaPo and its press pals would learn to quit falling for fake receipt stories
In a terrific editor's column in the Washington Free Beacon, Alex Griswold delves into the embarrassing pattern of how the press keeps falling for fake tip receipt scrawl stories.
The latest instance was out in Texas, where some supposedly "Christian" waiter said he got accused of being a terrorist by a restaurant customer based on his appearance and then got caught lying.
Most recently, outlets as varied as the Washington Post, USA Today, HuffPo, the Dallas Morning News, Associated Press, Fox News, and CBS News, all reported on a Facebook post from Odessa, Texas, waiter named Khalil Cavill. The 20-year-old posted a picture of a receipt he received while working at Saltgrass Steak House in which his first name was circled and "We don't tip terrorist" was written next to it. Cavill is Christian, but wrote that he was "sick to my stomach" and said he was sharing it "because I want people to understand that this is racism, and this hatred still exists."
What's news now is that the story turned out to be fake, part of a long pattern of such fakes, yet the press fell for it. You have to wonder what goes on in such newsrooms that there are journalists willing to report the same fake story over and over again, getting egg on their face each time, and then...falling for it again.
It's not the tabloids falling for this, but the big press: Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Associated Press, Fox News among them, over and over. The storyline is that some waiter reports on social media that a customer scrawled something racist or sexist or classist on the tip line of a receipt he got, makes national news from an eager-to-believe-it press, draws whipped up action from activists eager to capitalize on it...and then the story turns out to be fake.
It has happened no fewer than five times, according to Griswold, and quite likely eight, given that some of the claims were unverified but certainly in the same pattern. And those were the cases he could find!
This is the same press that is so quick to speak of its layers and layers of editing, its fact-checking, its objectivity, its absence of bias, and its commitment to getting the story right? Right? Yet these reporters and editors keep falling for this one.
Any questions as to why people don't trust the press? An Axios-Survey Monkey poll published less than a month ago shows that 92% of Republicans think the media intentionally report fake news, and 53% of Democrats think so, too. A Knight Foundation-Gallup poll from January shows very negative sentiment and low trust of the press across the board.
Griswold's piece is terrific because it gets to heart of why this is happening: such stories of racism or some other prejudice basically serve to confirm the prejudices of the reporters about their readers, the American people. These fake news stories pound the "narrative" – not that one guy out there is prejudiced, which isn't news, but that millions and millions of Americans are prejudiced, especially in places like Texas and New Jersey and Indiana. The old "deplorables" reaffirmation, in other words. It's like a form of bullying the press does to its readers, especially the ones in the least politically powerful locations. This fake, phony view of ordinary Americans is central to the left's worldview and virtually all reporters are of the left.
Griswold argues that the entire genre of these stories needs to be retired, given that well more than half have turned out to be fake, and it's starting to get noticed by the public. To keep running such "narratives" not only wrecks the press's credibility ever further, but also, he argues, destroys the social fabric.
Media outlets that fall for receipt stories don't just misinform their audience, they do so in a way that damages our nation's social cohesion. It's bad enough giving undue focus to true stories that don't represent the reality of race, religion, and sexual orientation in America. But when an entire genre of stories turns out to be a hoax over and over and over, it's time to retire it altogether.
Be sure to read the whole Alex Griswold piece. It's so good, so razor-sharp in its reasoning, that you'll want to remember that name to read every other thing he writes, too.