When a student dies, the University community is understandably despondent and anguished.
It is disconcerting to realize that a single article by Fox News is overshadowing this tragedy with the subsequent negative reaction it has elicited.
We cannot allow our emotions to cloud our perceptions. Although the article lacked tact and sensitivity, it is an overreaction to accuse the author, Kelly Chernenkoff, and Fox News, of publishing the story with malicious political intent. Doing so can only distract us from discussing what really matters in light of this tragedy.
The article noted a “tragic” coincidence between the suicide and President Barack Obama’s speech at GW, which both occurred on the same afternoon.
GW students, raw with emotion, were outraged over what many think was a deliberate attempt by Fox News to exploit the death in order to make a cheap and outrageous political innuendo.
Indeed, Chernenkoff and Fox News failed to handle the subject with proper tact. The article was curiously categorized under the website’s “politics” section, leading many to assume that Fox implied that the suicide was in someway correlated to or even caused by Obama’s speech. Chernenkoff should have exercised better skill when mentioning Obama’s appearance, knowing that it would offend readers if not handled delicately.
I believe the story’s intent was to highlight the sudden roller coaster the University underwent Wednesday – first, GW had the honor of hosting the president, and moments later, the University was dealing with a tragic suicide. Had this point been adequately articulated in the piece, the entire debacle could have been averted.
Sadly, the national response seems to be a kind of politically tinged angry mob, leading its critics to replace rationale with rage. Several liberal media outlets, including The Huffington Post and Daily Kos, have slammed the article, espousing their typical Fox-News-is-conservatively-biased talking point. Students have unfortunately followed their lead.
On a Facebook group originally created with the intent to unseat Chernenkoff from her reporting post, politically charged comments from GW students, such as, “this is disgusting even by Fox News standards, and that’s saying something,” and “let’s face it fox[sic] isn’t gunna[sic] fire him..there[sic] douches that welcome their own” have been common.
These kinds of statements are neither productive nor appropriate.
Some have chosen to hypocritically inject their own beliefs into the situation in an attempt to prove a larger political point, diluting the tragic nature of the situation in a sea of partisan rhetoric.
GW, we’re better than this.
At this moment, we should be memorializing the student while readying ourselves to have a frank and honest discussion about suicide in due time.
Using this situation as a platform to attack Fox News’ alleged political bias shifts the focus of public attention so far away from the student and the circumstances of his death, that once the controversy erodes, we might have already forgotten about the tragedy without ever giving it proper reflection in the first place. ?
Dan Keylin, a senior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.