So yesterday, in my assessment of the Arapahoe shooter, I cited a report that clearly showed the Denver Post deleted a direct quote from Pierson’s classmate that referred to him as a vocal socialist. I didn’t speculate about the reason for the deletion; I merely wondered why.
Today, I see that after being questioned about the change, the Denver Post news editor Lee Ann Colacioppo tried to explain away her paper’s decision on Twitter. The explanation struck me as arrogant, ridiculous and ignorant as a former journalist. Someone asks Lee Ann why she deleted any reference to Pierson being a passionate socialist from the report.
@KingShamus The story is full of his political views. The question is whether you let another student characterize him. Did you read it?
— Lee Ann Colacioppo (@LAColacioppo) December 15, 2013
She then adds the following in reply to another question:
@Whatwesettlefor We decided not to have another student apply a label to the shooter — a label the student likely didn’t even understand ..
— Lee Ann Colacioppo (@LAColacioppo) December 14, 2013
So, the student, who is at least 16 years old and took an economics class with Pierson, is too dumb to understand what “socialist” means, but not too dumb to be quoted by the paper overall.
Why does the paper decide what the student – who is ostensibly the subject matter expert here – understood and what he did not? This was supposed to be a report, not an analysis of his classmates’ ability to discern whether or not his political views fit the “socialist” mold. They interviewed a classmate. The classmate told them concretely what he thought of the kid. Lee Ann decided that he wasn’t qualified to have an opinion?
It’s called reporting. Report what your source said. Don’t pick and choose what you think is correct and what you don’t. That’s not your job. Or did they not teach you that in journalism school?
Fact of the matter is the paper reported Pierson’s views as “Keynesian.” It quoted other classmates as saying his views were “out of the mainstream.” But Lee Ann apparently considered directly quoting a subject matter expert – a person who knew Pierson personally and ostensibly had more objective knowledge of his views than Lee Ann did – as allowing him “to apply a label he likely didn’t understand.”
There you have it, folks. Lee Ann thinks the student who attended school with Pierson is too dumb and uninformed to understand the basic political and economic concepts he was learning in school, and the rest of you are too stupid to judge for yourselves whether you believe what he said, especially coupled with Pierson’s own words on Facebook and other reports from other classmates.
Therefore, Lee Ann Colacioppo is going to edit the story to tell you only what you need to hear. Because she’s smarter than you are.
And this is why I don’t miss journalism.
UPDATE: Real Clear Politics has video of a student confirming that Pierson was a proud socialist.
“He was friendly enough. Very proud of being a socialist. He was very outspoken on his political views,” student Angie Mock said. “To him, it just meant economic — more economic equality.”
Now, people throw the “socialist” label around a lot. I explored the “socialist” meme in this blog post a while ago. There are certainly varying shades of socialism.
They range from libertarian socialism (which to me is an oxymoron), but is so named likely because it shuns government control of production and advocates worker control instead to authoritarian/state socialism, where the almighty state controls all.
I assess Barack Obama falls somewhere in the middle of the socialist spectrum, although there’s a lot of evidence that he trends toward the statist model, given his partial nationalization of America’s health care, auto industry and banking industry. But overall he’s more of a social democrat – someone who advocates increased social spending and redistribution. And given his constant yammering about paying “our fair share,” I doubt there’s any way you can say he’s NOT a socialist! …
While most seem to think the “socialist” label is, on the whole, very specific, it’s quite clear that government control of production and distribution is a central tenet. These kids get it. Pierson got it, and was very proud of it.
Lee Ann apparently either doesn’t get it, or is afraid to name it.