I truly appreciate people who have the ability to show restraint in today’s crazy, heated world of social media.
Take, for example Deacon Greg Kandra, a former CBS News writer with 26 years, two Emmys and two Peabody Awards to his credit. He is now a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church, assigned to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, a 3,000-member parish in Forest Hills, a Queens neighborhood on the north end of New York City.
At the same time, he has been known to offer commentary on news coverage of church events and trends. His credentials speak for themselves. Frankly, I wish he wrote about news issues — television news, in particular — more often.
Kandra showed as much restraint as possible in a recent post that ran with this dry, biting headline: “Great moments in journalism: USA TODAY’s botched column on Kavanaugh.”
What happened? Kandra quotes several summaries of this train wreck, including this material from The Daily Caller:
A Friday USA Today article stating that Judge Brett Kavanaugh “should stay off basketball courts for now when kids are around” was re-edited the next day and the original tweet to the piece was deleted.
“The U.S. Senate may yet confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, but he should stay off basketball courts for now when kids are around,” USA Today sports reporter Erik Brady wrote in the piece which has since been changed to an opinion column.
“A previous tweet contained a statement that has since been edited out of a sports column,” tweeted USA Today on Saturday. “That tweet has been deleted. The updated opinion column and editor’s clarification are here.”
The result was what Kandra called a “shouting match on social media.” So much for the deacon’s quiet weekend. Click here to see the actual USA Today piece.
The powers that be at USA Today did publish a statement offering a few qualifications about the re-edited feature-turned-opinion column:
Editor’s note: Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh has told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee he loves coaching his daughters’ girls basketball teams, but said in testimony Thursday “thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.” The intent of this commentary was to address that question. The column was re-edited to more closely reflect that intent and labeled to reflect it as the writer’s opinion.
Kandra remained calm, adding some additional material from another media professional in the church — Ed McFadden from the Archdiocese of Washington. These McFadden quotes came from Facebook:
So I spent part of Saturday dealing with USA Today on this column after it was published. They were unethical on a couple of levels. How? First, the reporter I spoke with never told me my comments would be used for an opinion article (I never spoke to the actual op-ed writer, but to a sports reporter who likewise wasn’t told what his reporting would be used for). Had I known, I certainly would have had a different view on the issue and whether I cooperated. Second, they misquoted me on at least two occasions. Knowingly. Third, they misled readers about The Archdiocese of Washington’s child protection policies despite my giving them accurate information. Because the information didn’t fit with the author’s narrative he simply ignored it.
It took me half a day to get them to correct the record. Meanwhile, they were dealing with their own issues for having portrayed Brett Kavanaugh as a pedophile. When you have to revise an opinion article four times, you should know you have an issue.
Unfortunately, this has been the quality of journalism I have had to deal with for the past three months.
You can see the whole equation now?
Kavanaugh is a Catholic. You know about the problems that Catholic officials have been having linked to you know what. Do the math.
Thus, USA Today noted:
Turns out, though, Kavanaugh is free to continue coaching in the Catholic Youth Organization and his daughters’ private school in Washington, according to Edward McFadden, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington. He said a coach accused of sexual misconduct would have to go through the full legal process and be convicted before being banned.
McFadden told USA TODAY Sports’ A.J. Perez on Friday that “adult volunteers with extensive contact with children” go through fingerprinting, criminal background checks and training under what is called the VIRTUS program.
“The person is VIRTUS-trained,” McFadden said of Kavanaugh, “and has gone through a background check, which was clean.”
That’s just not enough. The USA Today column ended like this:
The nation is deeply divided. Sometimes it feels like we don’t agree on anything anymore. But credibly accused sex offenders should not coach youth basketball, girls or boys, without deeper investigation. Can’t we all agree on that?
Kandra showed remarkable restraint in his blog post. However, he decided to speak his mind at the very end.
… I can’t help but notice that nowhere in the USA TODAY statement, explanation or clarification is there any expression of remorse, regret or anything close to an apology.
And journalists wonder why so many in America hate them.
As someone who has spent most of his life toiling in the news business, for better or for worse, let me just say: that sucks. All of it. USA TODAY can and should do better. Insinuating that a public figure may be a pedophile —with absolutely no evidence — is no small thing. This morning, the newspaper should be serving its staff a breakfast buffet of crow, with generous helpings of humility and free refills of shame. …
Journalism in 2018. Heckuva job, USA TODAY. Heckuva job.
Thus endeth the lesson.