T Nation

The Covington Catholic Rorschach Test

I took a break from PWI after the Kavanaugh hearings and mid-term elections. I don’t keep myself informed of issues the way most of the posters here do, and I don’t have a lot to contribute outside of articulating my own ideas. Since there hasn’t been a thread about Covington, I’ll go ahead and start one.

When I first heard about this story, my first reaction was one of shock. I was shocked to believe that bunch of children who were raised conservative Catholic, as I was, would harass and mock an old man for any reason. My second reaction, which happened immediately after, was to refrain from joining the online outrage mob. I suspected there was more to this story, and it turns out there was.

It’s been about a week since this story broke, and it is now clear that the children of Covington Catholic High School were the only ones acting decently when two different groups of adults went out of their way to provoke them. Nathan Philips approached them and started banging a drum in the face of a child. The Black Hebrew Israelites shouted all manner of vile things at them for over an hour while the children did nothing but stand there and have a pep rally. Nathan Phillips was immediately given a national platform to tell his lies, and called the children “beasts” who wanted their “pound of flesh”.

Even after the full 2 hour video was circulated, you still had major media outlets promoting the narrative that these children were somehow acting wrong. Credence was still being given to the serial liar and stolen valor charlatan, Nathan Phillips. He was still being touted as a Vietnam Veteran, even though he never set foot in that country. He was given a softball interview on the Today show while Nick Sandaman, the child who dared to smile, was not.

Thousands of journalists, celebrities and high-profile online personalities have called for retribution against these children, who did nothing wrong. This has ranged from expulsion to outright calls for violence, up to and including their deaths. It also turns out that this is not, in fact, against Twitter’s terms of use. Any notions that Twitter is non-partisan have quickly flown out the window.

Several people I know personally have doubled-down on their belief that these children are simply the worst. So have many major media outlets. A facebook friend of mine linked a picture of their basketball team holding up three fingers, calling it the new Nazi salute. The same guy linked a picture from a 2012 blackout event, suggesting that this was somehow indicative of vile racism at Covington Catholic High School. Both of these narratives were, of course, circulated by mainstream media outlets. He was just repeating what sounded right to him. I’d imagine he’s never been around sports to know what a 3 pointer is or what black-out, blue-out, white-out or dress up like a nerd nights are all about, but I know that he has. I’m sure the people reporting on these non-incidents have too. None of that matters if you can get clicks, views and attention with dishonest reporting that advances the narrative.

He doesn’t care. He’s already settled on his opinion. The media doesn’t care. They’ve already settled on their opinion. These children are the worst. Old Native American man who fits the Hollywood tropes is the best.

This event is like a Rorschach test. I can’t take credit for applying that term to this scenario, but I think it’s accurate. I think I read it on The Federalist. People see what they want to. At least some do. I’m not sure how anyone can see anything besides children being put in a terrible position, but they do. It’s terrible, if you ask me. This is worse than the Kavanaugh hearings, where the entire weight of the Democrat establishment and most of the mainstream media was set upon a man with the intent to destroy his entire life’s work based on non-evidence and flimsy accusations from highly dubious sources.

I feel like we’re entering a cold civil war. I feel like the hard left continues to poison the entire country with their terrible ideas and vile actions. The Republican party is not infallible by any means, but I see no conservative equivalent that matches the scope and scale of what we see on the left today. Lawsuits for libel are incoming. I hope they win every penny they are after. This is inexcusable. Decent people have to fight back, and I’m glad to hear that they are.


Alex Jones? Birthers?

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Pretty much. People want to hate on the “other side” they’re willing to overlook all the information available and only focus on what they want to believe (confirmation bias). Couple that with cognitive dissonance (the doubling down effect) and you get some closed minded, scary individuals.

I have a few who are close to me in my life as well - they’re unwilling to hear other perspectives or to consider all the evidence. They approach things, seemingly, without humility needed to pursue truth regardless of any initial reaction or “feeling” one has on the situation.

Maybe, but I doubt it - I do think this is an over-reaction put out by the “conservative” media (such as the Federalist). They engage in similar rhetorical devices as the “liberal” media to get clicks and eye balls on their stuff - i.e. hyperbolic language meant to enflame emotions. You and I might see it as varying in degrees, but it’s still there…I’d ask what hard evidence exists outside of biased media outlets and your social media stream that suggest we’re entering into a “cold civil war” in any meaningful way?

Explain how this is relevant to what was posted above…or are you just “asking a question”?


I see this as a “shots fired” moment that really stands out. I mean there is absolutely no defense for how this story was spun. Some journalists apologized and issued retractions. Many, many did not. Hopefully the lawsuits sting and a market correction of sorts takes place.

Exactly. You have pieces of human garbage like Kathy Gifford demanding the school release their kids personal information. That bimbo Alyssa Millano thing’s they’re literally the KKK for wearing a hat.

People seem to forget these are kids. 15-18. Even if they acted inappropriately, which I’ve seen no evidence that they did, they’re CHILDREN. What did they expect the main kid that’s been smeared all over the internet and news to do? He smiled and held his ground. Good for him. Nathan Philips appears to be a giant piece of shit.

All these asshats mad at the kids must have forgotten what it’s like to be in HS. Those kids had no idea what to do when Phillips approached.


Is an idiot.

Are stupid.

How many people are birthers or listen to Alex Jones (crossover is probably 98%) vs. how many news outlets and celebrities went after these high school kids?

I also think Twitter needs to be burned to the ground. Not literally, of course, but I’m sick of someone’s tweets being reported as news. You can find idiots posting idiotic stuff no matter what your politics are, and it is never newsworthy. The whole Ocasio Cortez dancing “controversy” was from some anonymous twitter account. Nobody even knows who it was, yet all of a sudden it became “conservatives hate dancing college kids”. The Covington story also sprang to life on twitter, also from an anonymous account (apparently in Brazil) who nobody can put a name to.

The quality of information being put out right now is so abysmally low. I’d like to know what kind of bad or questionable shit the president is up to, but I’m forced to wade through piles of nonsense before I find something remotely credible.

I wish I could just pick up the news and get a decent take on things.


I get the argument. I watched the Savannah Guthrie/Nick Sandmann “interview” on the Today Show’s youtube post … the video itself got a ratio’d 2:1 in the negative . . meaning for every upvote of the “interview” there were 2 down votes. So, twice as many people who went to the youtube video seemingly thought the interview was a piece of shit (hint: I was one of those people - it was embarrassing). Things like this, and the fact that there were a significant amount of retractions and attempts to walk back comments is encouraging at the very least.

I agree. It’s reprehensible that information was ignored and discarded to spin a narrative. This was yellow journalism at its best (worst?) - clearly. Not to mention the platform they gave to Philips to lie about the entire incident and the obvious doubling-down by some other outlets and individuals.

This can be indicative of how “WE” (not necessarily you or me, but seemingly a good proportion of the news consuming population) consume media - seemingly “we” respond to hyperbole and it draws in clicks/eyeballs and ad revenue. Fix the way MSM and other ‘news’ outlets are compensated, or fix how we respond to this type of shit and that’ll help push journalist back towards seeking truth (I’m being optimistic here).

I hope so, too. I also hope a good portion of the sensationalist individuals out there see what they’ve become and start to change as well…all I can do is what I’ve been doing which is do not click on hyperbolic headlines and not give into emotions to dictate my behavior and thoughts … seemingly your own initial reaction as well…

WSJ is pretty moderate and adheres to the facts for the most part. Most of the articles (outside of opinion pages) from NYT are pretty straightforward. When I get a hint of opinion wafting into any of the stories from either of these publications I just filter it out and focus on what is factual and not speculative or the authors own perspective.

I don’t think you’ll ever get any new outlet or publication completely bias free. I don’t think that’s ever existed. There are a few (WSJ, NYT) that seem to try to keep it factual but they both fall short time to time. It’s one of the reasons why I try to hone my bullshit detector as often as I can.

They’ve been one of my go-to’s for a while now, but I don’t subscribe. I’ll pick one up at the gas station every once in a while. I suppose it’s another case of you get what you pay for. If clicks and views are what drive revenue, clicks and views will be what they’re most interested in generating.

It’s almost impossible, but a bit of journalistic integrity can go a very long way.

I agree. I like to believe that a good portion of journalists adhere to their own internal standards and have integrity - but like most of us fall short and can be unwitting victims of their own biases.

There are seemingly, also, a good portion of journalists who are adhering to what appears to be some narratives, on both sides, left and right, and push those narrative to our collective detriment. And I also think there are bad actors that have ends that are in contradiction to what I see as individual liberty and freedom and what America stands for.

I also think a lot of the bad journalism is pushed into the lime light far too often and loudly (so to speak) to not be able to ignore for a lot of people.

I’ve watched this from the start. My observations:

  1. My fellow First American* Nathan Phillips is a piece of work. First, we have the stolen valor thing. Second, I looked at his DD214; the dude was a PRIVATE FOR FOUR YEARS. That actually takes a bit of work to do. In the "I told my SGT to go ‘fuck himself’ and pissed on the floor stoned and went AWOL about 20 times kind of work.

  2. The kid looked like a smarmy asshole kid.

  3. The Black Israelites are the biggest bunch of whackos I’ve ever heard of. So bad the uber-liberal Southern Poverty Law Center lists them as a “hate group”. Which also takes some real work for black liberals to get on that list.

Anyway, I’ve watched the whole thing. What I got out of it is the BHI saw an opportunity to taunt white kids, the white kids fell for it, chanted back, and professional grievance First American Phillips saw an opportunity to elevate himself, got in the kid’s face, who stood there like an idiot.

The media was 100% wrong.
All people involved are still assholes, but the kid is the least culpable of the assholes.

  • This is the “cool” replacement for “Native American” (which is stupid, since anyone borne here is a “native American”), which was a replacement for “Indian” which was OK, in that it correctly reminds us that Italians have always been bad at directions, but inaccurate and confusing since there are a lot of real Indians-from-India here. It’s what most First Americans are calling themselves here, recently. So there you go.

This. Differing degrees of assholes…

Also…I think (or at least hope)…that “major” outlets will (and in many cases have) corrected themselves. The problem is that most people today don’t get their “news” from them.

I see it everyday. They get their “Newsfeed” from some biased source that feeds them bullshit they want to hear; directly to their "Smart"phone.

This is the direction things are going…and its only going to get worse.


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I watched Don Shipley’s video on the guy. I’ve been a fan of Shipley’s videos for years where he mostly goes after fake Navy SEALs, but I was glad to see he pulled this guy’s DD214. I have more than a few “special forces/elite operator” guys I’ve met working the door at a bar I’d like to send his way. Interestingly, none of them had military ID’s.

What I was left wondering is just how bad do you need to fuck up to be a rifleman for two days before you get assigned to repairing fridges? I’m guessing it’s the same style of fuck-ups necessary to be discharged as a private.

I’ve raised a kid who is now 18. He’s a smarmy asshole with or without his MAGA hat. Par for the course with teenage boys, but he’s growing up. Much less of a smarmy asshole than he was 2 years ago.

I think that’s a good term. Accurate.

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My “newsfeed” on my phone is largely ignored … it’s pretty ridiculous tbh that shit that pops up on there.

Availability bias - it might be the case for some people, and those people might be the ones who you remember or pay attention to but it may not reflect MOST people.

I’m curious if you’ve ever read “Thinking, Fast and Slow” … you’d like it if you haven’t…

it’s actually a comment directed at him from another thread … but it can be applied to a lot of posts all over the place and is my general mindset lately…a lot of conflation (I’m sure I’m guilty of it - often) with seemingly unrelated topics without much explanation…

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I don’t think that’s the case. The best any of these major outlets I’m linking have done is present “the other side”, but still portray Philips and his account of what happened as credible. This isn’t like a policy disagreement, where you actually have two sides to present. This is group after group of adults harassing and spreading lies about children.



Some journalists have copped to this, but they seem few and far between. You can find a few linked in the articles below.

And Fox and Trump?

I always count on them to lay out the unbiased truth…

Imo Trump is a great representation of how most people don’t actually want accurate information. They want the birther movement, confirmation bias, and blatant lies.

So long as it fits the world view people had when they stumbled on the page.

Edit: obviously this applies to liberals as well

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Yes it does.

I’m on record saying that the Kavanaugh hearing; and now this; were Clusterfucks of the highest magnitude by the Left, that showed no shame.

But I am also not buying the “Innocent Conservative” narrative.