On March 14, thousands of high school students across the country participated in a walkout advocating for a legislative response to the February shooting in Parkland, Fla.
During the event, the media focused on the young participators’ messages — features and regional stories galore — with renowned publications like The New York Times turning their editorial boards to student perspectives on the ground.
It makes sense for the media to cover the walkout so thoroughly, given that the story was definitely newsy, timely and everyone loves politically engaged teens.
But some argued that in doing so, the media forced a pro-gun control narrative onto America. Focusing only on the voices that did participate in the march effectively ignores the perspectives of the students who didn’t, and many on the Right claim that the media’s treatment of the walkout paints a false consensus to a highly divisive political issue.
Some pointed out what they think is hypocrisy in media and students’ failure to organize more ideologically conservative protests, like a pro-life march.
“Fox and Friends” highlighted the stories of others like teacher Julianne Benzel, who felt that she was unfairly “targeted” by administrators because she questioned whether or not an anti-abortion walkout of the same magnitude would be allowed.
While high school students flock to Washington D.C. every anniversary to protest Roe v. Wade in January — pundits say — it never receives the same amount of coverage that last Wednesday’s walkout did and won’t because of a liberal media bias.
Can we get some pro-life walkouts next week? I'm sure school administrators will mark it an excused absence.
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) March 14, 2018
Many Second Amendment advocates argued that the walkout shamed high school students that otherwise wouldn’t have participated into doing so, effectively coercing them into a walkout they didn’t believe in.
Pundit Tucker Carlson and former sniper Ryan Cleckner argued that the media’s choice to write stories highlighting student perspectives is turning them into political props to urge an agenda that wouldn’t work in practice. Some on the Right are even suing over it.
Chicago GOP Chairman Chris Cleveland filed a complaint and is thinking about filing a lawsuit because he claims “school administrators are using taxpayer dollars to advance a political agenda” via the walkout.
On Fox, Cleveland argued that diverting school funds by cancelling class to organize a walkout that some students ideologically disagree with essentially coerces them into participating, producing a chilling effect on speech that can subvert their First Amendment rights.
While conservatives claim that the mainstream media’s coverage of dissenters was low and pushing an agenda, it’s important to note that Fox News covered the students walking out less than other outlets, perhaps minimizing its impact for a political end.
Whether you think that the media is blatantly anti-gun or is just trying to cover what is clearly a newsworthy story, the press certainly have been agenda-setting and framing a power in American politics that often goes under the radar in more policy-oriented conversations. Sometimes, what the media doesn’t cover is just as big of a story as what they do