Integrity is hardly a word that goes hand in hand with journalism these days. In fact, major media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and Time Magazine can hardly even be bothered to fact check anymore -- particularly when it comes to stories they believe skewer the "right."
This might explain why "Rosa Parks" was trending on Twitter Wednesday. Seemingly out of the blue, major media outlets began reporting that Ammon Bundy -- leader of the Oregon-based militia group that took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge -- compared his actions to that of the late civil rights activist.
The Washington Times reported on the major media fail:
“We are doing the same thing as Rosa Parks did. We are standing up against bad laws which dehumanize us and destroy our freedom,” a user tweeted early Wednesday under the Twitter handle @Ammon_Bundy.
MSNBC reporter Tony Dokoupil, reporting from Oregon, confirmed that the account is a fake and that Mr. Bundy is not on Twitter.
Despite the fact that even an MSNBC reporter was cogent enough to clarify that the tweets did not emanate from Bundy, The Washington Post, Business Insider, USA Today and Time magazine, latched on to the fake report and ran with it:
“To be clear: Rosa Parks — the black woman who, on Dec. 1, 1955, refused to give her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., to a white man — was protesting legally sanctioned discrimination. She was willing to be arrested — to serve time and expose an unjust system,” The Post reported. “Bundy, armed and possibly dangerous, takes a quite different position. He says his protest won’t ‘end until we get our public lands back,’ denying the federal government’s role in land management — a legally dubious position.”
According to the Washington Times, celebrities and pundits also took to social media to slam the militiaman for comparing himself to Rosa Parks.
Through this medium called the Internet, "news" can be disseminated instantaneously across the world. While in times of crisis this can prove a good thing, the speed with which content is delivered also makes it difficult to discern fact from fiction. Every reporter wants to be the "first" to break a story, hence rush to publish content without fact checking or sourcing their material. In the process, the "angry mob" latches on to any shared information and strikes -- whether their collective ire is based in reality or not. This makes the internet a force for ill as much as it is for good. And when it comes to any news that seems to slam the "right," the mainstream media are the worst perpetrators of all.