Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bill O'Reilly's attack on school transgender policy is BAD journalism

Not trying to sound like a cranky old man, but I remember a time in which journalists actually researched things before they went on television and ran their mouths. But thanks to people like Roger Ailes, the standards which journalists used to aspire to have gone down the toilet. Witness Fox News' Bill O'Reilly's ignorant rant about a Massachusetts policy to protect trangender students:


Transcript: 

O'REILLY: This is truly madness, ladies and gentlemen. You're telling me that a kid can go to a public school in Massachusetts, immediately upon entering the school take off the kid's shirt and put on a dress, alright, go to the girls' room when he's a boy, and then change his name from John to Tiffany, and then after school, put the shirt back on, go home, and he's still John.
[...]
O'REILLY: There's a difference between a conversation and a lifestyle. That's such a violation of parental rights by the state of Massachusetts. It's off the chart violation.
[...]
O'REILLY: We don't even want to get into the locker room situation here, okay? Because I know a lot of wise guys who would exploit this in a way that we're not even going to talk about.

Media Matters breaks down how many errors O'Reilly commits with his rants.

 . . . in his rush to condemn the new policy, he overlooked a few important facts about the directive and what it means to be transgender:

1. Gender Identity Is Innate And Largely Inflexible, Even In Young Children. As the MA directive explains, children who identify as transgender are typically responding to an "innate, largely inflexible" characteristic of their personality - not a random or casual "lifestyle" choice . . . This position is supported by experts at the American Psychological Association (APA).

 2. Students Aren't Allowed To Casually Change Their Gender Identity. The MA directive also establishes that schools should only accept the assertion of a student's gender identity when there is "consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity"

3. Ignoring A Student's Gender Identity Is A Bad Idea. Allowing schools to acknowledge the appropriate gender identity of transgender students is an important step in protecting transgender youth from a host of negative consequences. Studies show that unwelcoming environments do serious damage to transgender youth, and simply refusing to acknowledge transgender children has been discouraged by medical experts. Instead, the APA encourages schools to provide support to vulnerable LGBT youth. This is especially true considering the "extreme harassment" already faced by many transgender students.

4. It's Dangerous To Inform Parents About Their Child's Gender Identity Without The Child's Consent. As the MA directive explains, allowing teachers to reveal their students' transgender status to their parents without permission is a terrible idea.

 5. Schools Are Allowed To Question A Student's Gender Identity In Appropriate Circumstances. The MA directive also instructs school staff to question a student's gender identity in the highly unlikely circumstance that a student claims to be transgender for inappropriate reasons, like "wise guys" trying to get into the girls' locker room. 

I don't care whether you are a reporter or a blowhard commentator like O'Reilly, when millions of people count on you for news and views, you have a responsibility to do the proper research in order to inform them correctly.  There is just simply no excuse for spreading misinformation even if you couch your errors as simply being your opinion.

But sadly, there is no accountability for O'Reilly and others who get paid megabucks for lazy journalism

In the early 1980s, a Washington Post reporter, Janet Cooke, was drummed out of the business after she admitted to making up a story about an eight-year-old heroin addict. To this day, she doesn't write for any newspaper.

If Cooke had committed her lie in this era of irresponsible journalism, she would probably end up not only still in the business but making more money than those who do abide by the standards of good journalism.


3 comments :

Andrew Blechinger said...

Anyone remember Jayson Blair of the New York Times? About 10 years ago, he was caught falsifying and plagiarizing stories, and he too was thrown out. I don't know if the rules are different for broadcast media, but in either case this is Faux News doing what it does best.

dancandan said...

O'Reilly has long since been dismissed as a journalist...he has, to my knowledge, never fact-checked a story before his numerous rants and his "opinions" are a reflection of his ignorance and apparent laziness. He finds or hears a blurb from somne inane source or other and he's off. He is irrelevant in the world of academia and for that matter, the world at large. I don't even listen to him anymore...it just pisses me off.

Reagan Stewart said...

this is beyond disgusting! I have read the entire guidelines set forth by the Mass. department of education. This fool and the Fox News origination are sensationalizing this very serious trans issue. They are creating a hyper-hysterical reaction in order to enact fear. This is a very common response by the Social Conservative media. I would suggest to Bill O to do his homework!
Here is where you can find the guidelines... http://www.doe.mass.edu/ssce/GenderIdentity.pdf

I have just started a blog dedicated to the policy of gender nondiscrmination for Georgia public schools. http://cgndgaps.blogspot.com/ This issue is not going away and the more I see the type of crap I get more and more resolute to my cause.