Please have a seat, Ms. Cooper. I’m sure you’re wondering why you got sent here to the principal’s office. Well, to be honest, we’re worried. Your teachers have been sending us reports, and we are concerned—yes, concerned.
The articles you’ve been running reflect a growing disconnection from reality—particularly as regards facts versus falsehoods and journalism versus clickbait. On your watch, Newsweek has been publishing articles about the Church of Scientology. These articles are so devoid of truth, so dripping with already disproven canards, so dependent on the say-so of long-discredited individuals with their own axes to grind in the hopes that the grinding noise distracts from their own egregious acts on innocent people that—well, Ms. Cooper—may I call you Nancy? No? Very well. We’ve prepared a short quiz for you.
How would you define the phrase “journalistic integrity?”
Let us begin. Here is a little test of your reading comprehension skills. Please tell me what the following sentence means: “Paul Haggis, found liable in a jury trial for rape, was ordered to pay damages totaling $12.8 million.”
Um, no. I’m afraid it doesn’t mean, “Paul Haggis is the sun, moon and stars, riding on a unicorn in a meadow of smiley faces.”
Let’s try another one. Please tell me your understanding of the following: “Leah Remini was accused by international media of having blood on her hands after her since-cancelled hate show and podcasts inspired violent anti-religious hate crimes. Oh dear. Wrong again. That most definitely does not mean, ‘Leah Remini is my bestest, bestest, bestest friend in the whole world and everything she tells me is totally true.’”
I wonder—possibly what we’re dealing with isn’t lack of comprehension, but simply hearing loss stemming from an excess of earwax and rumor. “YOO-HOO! MS. COOPER! HELLO-O-O-O?!”
Ah well. Let us proceed. Next let’s test your understanding of your native language—English, I believe? How would you define the phrase “journalistic integrity?”
Interesting, but no, “journalistic integrity” doesn’t mean: “Let’s print a whole bunch of poppycock about the Church of Scientology and see how many clicks we can get! Yum!”
Let’s just skip the rest of these words—“honesty,” “respect,” “professionalism,” “religious tolerance”—and just move on to arithmetic, shall we?
Solve this problem: Nancy edits a news magazine. Two potential sources knock on her door with “information” on the Church of Scientology. One source is a proven rapist and liar and the other is “just a crappy has-been actress who’s trying to make a dollar off my church.” How many of those sources should she listen to?
Sigh… No, again. The answer is not “Both, you idiot!” And here is a tissue. Please wipe the drool off your face. This is the principal’s office, not a barnyard.
Well! Almost done! Lastly, a test of your interpersonal skills and how well you play with others, Ms. Cooper. Here is the hypothetical situation: You’re playing outside during recess. You’re approached by two groups of children. One group likes to play wholesome games that are fun, fair and develop educational skills that will benefit them in adulthood. The other group likes to torture small animals. Both groups want you to play with them. Which group do you choose?
I was afraid of that.
Well, Ms. Cooper, with your test scores, academic performance and dismal social skills, we have no choice but to keep you in second grade for one more year.
May I be the first to wish you all the luck in the world—you will need it. And as the saying goes, third time’s the charm!