Thursday, April 26, 2018

Digging for Dirt

            Muckraking and yellow journalism is again (unsurprisingly) found in the pages of the Salt Lake Tribune, where the religion reporter, Peggy Stack, has posted more fake news. Her purpose is clear: keep negative publicity focused on the LDS Church; keep digging for dirt; keep the public’s collective mind preoccupied with her agenda.

How sad that a religion reporter can’t find real religion news to report. No one expects a newspaper to become the PR arm of the Church (except for the Church’s owned newspaper) but for crying out loud, President Nelson just returned from a two-week international tour, going places few prophets have ever been, and Stack couldn’t be bothered to report that genuinely important religious news. To her, it’s much more important to stir the controversy pot, digging and playing in more dirt than a gardener. But this kind of dirt she can’t wash off or keep it from blackening and staining her reputation.

            Stack’s latest attempt to make something news that isn’t, is her story of a mission president that somehow victimized some sister missionaries in Puerto Rico. This is proclaimed to be Stack’s great addition to the “me too” movement. (The golden age of Hollywood also had muckraking tabloid journalists looking for dirt on movie stars of that day).

A quick glance at church statistics shows us that there are 3,340 stakes and 420 missions, not to mention over 30 thousand wards and branches. These numbers add up to the mathematical possibility that a few of these priesthood leaders will fail and fall in their responsibilities and do something bad. Congratulations Peggy, being the industrious dirt-digger you are, you looked under some rocks and found one of them—and made a story out of something that isn’t news. More fake news from Stack and the Tribune.

She writes: “This episode comes to light during the #MeToo movement. . . .” Well, surprise, surprise, that is because she herself discovered it while digging for dirt and ran with it.

After belatedly noting that no young sisters with first-hand information about the (non-) story would agree to be interviewed, Peggy drags in the Joseph Bishop MTC story and lawsuit to give it more attention and publicity. If she can’t report the facts of one situation and it doesn’t fit her agenda, darn it, she can recycle those of another—keep the negative publicity going! She seems also chagrined that the whole (non-) story was handled appropriately and with care and sensitivity by the church so no one is suing or criticizing or holding press conferences. No one involved is trying to bash the church and that seems to trouble her. So she quotes a feminist sociologist’s (someone with no first-hand knowledge) opinion (that is therefore worthless) and evidently runs out of steam. The only thing even worth reading in the story are the quotations from the church spokesman, Eric Hawkins, who obviously has talent for clear and concise expression and phraseology in explaining Mormon matters.

I ask myself; does Stack really think readers are that blind to her purposes? Does she think they cannot tell she is making up (fake) news to keep her extremist feminist agenda before the public? I would suppose she thinks it worth the risk. Those who can spot deception will quickly recognize the propaganda, but her feminist and critical purposes are served, which is more important to her in the long run.

I much prefer the Deseret News’s story, which I would suppose other media outlets (like the Tribune) basically forced them to write because of all the negativity. It is good to see some balance and facts and objectivity, instead of negative opinion and agenda posing as news.

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