It is well known to many that Fox News serves up lies on a daily basis. Sometimes the lies appear to be blatant distortions or outright falsehoods. Other times they are the result of sloppy reporting. Some of the lies are harmless, some are maddening, and some can prove deadly for those affected by them. What happened after Fox News reported on a Sioux Falls, SD school board decision on saying the Pledge of Allegiance is an example of the latter.
According to Keloland.com, the issue started when Marcus Hicks, a senior at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, wondered why the students did not recite the Pledge Of Allegiance in high school. Hicks posted a comment about it on Facebook. His grandmother saw the comment, and went to a local veterans’ group with her concern. The veterans asked the board to require reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the high school level.
Should high school teachers require their students to say the Pledge? Megyn Kelly from Fox News thinks so.
Sioux Falls stopped requiring high school students to recite the Pledge in the 1970’s. The school board’s recent vote expanded mandatory saying of the Pledge of Allegiance up to the middle school level, but they reaffirmed the current policy at the high school level. Board members explained that high school teachers were free to lead their classes in the Pledge, but that they didn’t want to add another requirement for high school classrooms. KELO, the Sioux Falls CBS affiliate, reported that the school board voted to end mandatory reciting of the Pledge at high schools. Fox News picked up on the story, which was discussed by Megyn Kelly on her show, The Kelly File.
Here’s the Fox News video:
Kelly and Fox News offer misleading, highly-edited clips of school board member comments.
If the quotes from school board members seem cut off in those clips offered to Fox News viewers, that’s because they were edited down to present the point that the network wanted to make. The full comments from board members are available here, on the Sioux Falls School District website. Would it surprise anyone to learn that the full quotes, in context, present a very different picture than what Fox News offered? For example, on the clip offered to Kelly’s viewers, school board member Kate Parker says: “We do not… There’s not always an opportunity to have the Pledge Of Allegiance spoken every day.”
Now, here’s the complete quote.
…we wanted to make it clear that at the high school level, we do not… there’s not always an opportunity to have the Pledge Of Allegiance spoken every day. We don’t have home rooms. But we do have assemblies, and the principals that were in the discussion with us really said that, or they talked about the assemblies and how it’s a much more somber moment during their assemblies when everyone is in the room — all the students are in the assembly hall. And that the Junior ROTC programs do a presentation of colors, and they do other patriotic activities during that time. And it’s a much easier time at the high school level, because again like I said it’s when all the students are assembled in one place. We did clarify in the policy that we, that the Pledge Of Allegiance is performed each day at the middle school and at the elementary level.
A bit later in the full video, school board member Doug Morrison explains that school administrators would be required to to ensure that patriotic displays would be part of each and every school assembly. Fox News managed to leave that quote out of their story as well.
Sloppy reporting creates a potentially dangerous situation.
So far this story sounds like business as usual at Fox News – whipping up their low-information viewers into a frenzy over an issue that is really not an issue. However, this one turned serious, as reported by Sioux Falls ABC-TV affiliate KSFY. School board member Kent Alberty told the station that board members had received hate mail and death threats, mostly from outside the area. Alberty says that one such threat called for all of the school board members to be lined up and shot.
Alberty says that the reporter who covered the story for the local station “…wasn’t at the School Board meeting, didn’t interview any members of the School Board, didn’t interview the person who spoke to the School Board…” Rather, the story was taken from a headline claiming that the board voted to drop the Pledge at the high school level. This was totally false. Fox News and Megyn Kelly picked up the story from there, and ran with it to a national audience.
KSFY asked Alberty if he wanted an apology from Kelly, Fox News, or the local tv station. He responded:
When something is misreported, misrepresented, an incendiary headline that really doesn’t base anything on facts of the story, I would think that would be appropriate. But I’m certainly not expecting it anytime.
It is well known that Fox News engages in sloppy reporting that can barely be called “journalism.” Sadly, what the honchos at Fox News ignore is that in far too many instances they are whipping up a frightened, largely uninformed audience that already believes that the country they grew up in is being changed for the worse. In this case, a portion of this audience has resorted to terrorist threats against five people who are doing one of the most important, yet largely thankless jobs in the country.
Here’s the real story, courtesy of KSFY: