Breaking News & Media Literacy

CLP Current Event: February 12, 2019

In a busy 24-hour news cycle it’s not always easy to withhold judgment until you have all the facts. Help students understand why this is an important skill to develop with this week’s CLP Current Event.

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.

“Surely anyone who has ever been elected to public office understands that one commodity above all others, namely the trust and confidence of the people, is fundamental in maintaining a free and open political system.”

News Sources

Scandal in Virginia (4 total)
When Is Sorry Not Enough? Virginia Scandals Test the Limits of Forgiveness, by Julie Bosman and John Elignon, The New York Times, February 8, 2019
“But the chaos in Virginia spilled over the borders of the commonwealth, plunging Americans into an uncomfortable bout of national soul-searching on matters of wrongs and redemption. They flipped through tattered yearbooks. They thought about how Jesus might respond. They considered questions that went beyond one state’s gut-wrenching political scandal: When is it right to forgive, and when is an act unforgivable?”

Political Scandals Envelop Virginia’s Top Government Officials, by Sarah McCammon, NPR, February 7, 2019
“The top three officials in the state are all facing serious questions. Governor Ralph Northam faces pressuress to resign over an old racist photo. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is now publicly accused by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her in 2004. And now the state’s third ranking official, Attorney General Mark Herring, has admitted that he donned blackface at a college party in the 1980s.”

Virginia Politics in Chaos, by Veronica Rocha, Brian Ries, Meg Wagner and Amanda Wills, CNN, February 7, 2019
“Many Democrats have called for an investigation into Fairfax for what they view as a credible allegation made against him but have stopped short of calling for a resignation. Vanessa Tyson said Wednesday that Fairfax sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax has vehemently denied the allegation.”
CLP: Live news updates – interesting way to look at how news changes as more information emerges.

Ralph Northam’s yearbook scandal grows with new blackface admission, by Zachary Basu, Axios, February 2, 2019
“In a statement Friday, Northam admitted to appearing in the photo, which depicts two people wearing blackface and Ku Klux Klan attire. At his press conference, Northam said he only did so after being presented with the evidence and determining that was the most likely explanation. He then said that after reflecting with his family and classmates at the times, he became certain that he is not in the photo.”

Lincoln Memorial Protest (3 total)
Unraveling A Washington Mall Confrontation, Frame By Frame, by Elizabeth Jensen, NPR, January 25, 2019
“Reporters report what they see and hear, and what they believe to be the truth based on other information they collect. As a result of that reporting, sometimes stories will become clearer over time, as more details emerge. It’s not an exact science deciding when enough reporting has been done so editors can feel comfortable publishing or airing a story. Sometimes they are published too early, sometimes too late. One factor in the timing is the importance of the story; the more important the story, the faster it generally gets reported.”

Bishop apologizes to teen who faced off with Native American, by Dennis Romero, NBC News, January 25, 2019
“In a letter to parents, the Most Rev. Roger Foys said the diocese was too quick to condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students, particularly those of Nicholas Sandmann, the boy who was seen on video facing off with Native American elder Nathan Phillips as he performed the song “American Indian Movement” near the Lincoln Memorial.”

I Failed the Covington Catholic Test, by Julie Irwin Zimmerman, The Atlantic, January 21, 2019
“Why are we all so primed for outrage, and what if the thousands of words and countless hours spent on this had been directed toward something consequential?”
CLP: Opinion

Questions to Consider

Media Literacy

  • What is “Breaking News”? What caution goes with the “breaking” part of the news? Why might it be wise to wait for more information? How does technology impact the speed of news? What skills are needed to interpret news? How do we judge the reliability of news sources?
  • What is suspended judgment? What skills are needed to suspend judgment?
  • When is outrage so great that suspended judgment is very difficult?
  • What is “media literacy”?
  • What might be the connection between the Lincoln Memorial protest and the Virginia Governor scandal? Do we need additional information?
  • Is inherent bias part of both events? Why or why not?
  • How can we use media literacy to understand the news we see?
  • Do people see what they want to see? Do snap judgments reflect our own prejudices?
  • Does national partisanship frame this incident?
  • What is implicit bias? Is it part of this incident?

Scandal in Virginia

  • What does the image of a Ku Klux Klansman mean? What does “blackface” reference How do symbols evoke feelings?
  • How should we interpret actions that took place in a person’s youth? How responsible are we for mistakes? What is redemption/forgiveness?

Lincoln Memorial Protest

Background and More

Media Literacy

What is media literacy, and why is it important?, Common Sense Media

How media literacy can help students discern fake news, by Kavitha Cardoza, PBS Newshour, June 6, 2017

Scandal in Virginia

This is why blackface is offensive, by Harmeet Kaur, CNN, February 7, 2019

‘The Blackness Project’ promotes understanding, dialogue, by Mark Sommer, Buffalo News, February 23, 2018

Lincoln Memorial Protest

Importance of Indigenous Peoples March got overshadowed by ‘the face of white privilege’, by Doug Cuthand, CBC, January 26, 2019
CLP: Opinion

The Confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial, hosted by Michael Barbaro, The Daily, January 23, 2019
CLP: Podcast

At Lincoln’s memorial, the social divide erupts, by Richard J. Rosendall, Washington Blade, January 23, 2019

Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan: Covington Catholic incident through a media literacy lens, PBS Newshour Extra, January 25, 2019
CLP: Grades 7-12

Constitutional and Legal Connections

Scandal in Virginia

Constitution of Virginia, Virginia Law

Lincoln Memorial Protest

The Backlash to New Rules on Protests in D.C., by Olivia Paschal, The Atlantic, October 13, 2018
CLP: First Amendment

Oregon Connections

21 Memorable Oregon Political Scandals You Have Probably Forgotten (or never knew about), by Douglas Perry, The Oregonian, February 21, 2017

Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.21 Analyze important political and ethical values such as freedom, democracy, equality and justice embodied in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
HS.28 Evaluate how governments interact at the local, state, tribal, national, and global levels.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.35 Examine the pluralistic realities of society (e.g., race, poverty, gender and age), recognizing issues of equity, and evaluating need for change.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.

We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 6, Lesson 29: What are the rights and responsibilities of citizenship?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 30: How might citizens participate in civic affairs?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 6, Lesson 34: What is the importance of civic engagement to American constitutional democracy?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 37: What key challenges does the United States face in the future?