Media Malfeasance: A Sarah Braasch Story

 

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So sitting around today, deciding to peruse my twitter account for a little while, to catch up on anything that may be interesting going on, I happened across a story tweeted by my friend Sarah Braasch. As many of you know, I’ve written about her “Napping While Black” incident that occurred at Yale in May of 2018 several times. I’ve even seen and have been appalled by some of the coverage of this incident, not only from Yale’s own student newspaper (it actually bothers me to refer to it as a “newspaper”) to others as in the New york Times and other major news and media outlets. To say the coverage has been one-sided would be a huge understatement as everyone, from members of the Yale administration and beyond have gone out of their way to assassinate Sarah’s character.

The article I’m referring to, as published by The Atlanta Black Star, is just one more example of journalistic malfeasance that doesn’t even pretend to attempt to be non-partisan. The goal of journalism, should be to present facts and to leave their opinions (unless the piece is on the opinion page) at home, or that an editor should leave it on the floor. This story doesn’t even make the slightest attempt at not only accuracy, but in what anyone would consider fairness. But, hey, it’s 2019 and if anyone believes that fairness is applicable in any pursuit, they are fooling themselves. The give away? It’s the headline of the story itself:

White Yale Student Who Called Police on Graduate Student Seeks to Clear Her Name Since She’s Being Treated as a ‘Villain’ Who Will ‘Never’ Work Again

Notice anything odd in that headline? A white student called police on a graduate student.  Why is it necessary to mention the race of one while ignoring the race of the other? Is it because if they didn’t, readers could assume anything before actually reading the story itself. And to identify Sarah as just a “student”  while identifying the other as a “graduate student” is a just a little demeaning, isn’t it? Sarah is a PhD candidate (still) at Yale and would it have been too much to say that in this incredibly long headline that goes at length (okay that’s a bit of a pun) to immediately stoke racial animus?

Of course the goal here is for the paper to provoke the ire of their readers before ever reading the content, for what it’s worth, provided. And this is just the headline! Imagine what else is written in the story. Let’s look. But before that, go back to the headline because there’s more evidence of bias staring at us right there. Notice the headline claims that Sarah says she’s being treated as a “villain” who will “never” work again. Here’s the actual quote, supposedly given by Sarah:

“I’ve been vilified on a global scale as somebody akin to a genocidal villain and I’ll never be able to get a job again.”

At a glance some may view the that part of the headline as correct but Sarah never said she’s being treated as a villain,  The word “vilify” means having been spoken or written about in a disparaging manner. The problem with the headline is they placed the word villain in quotes as if that is something Sarah actually said. the last part is mostly true although should’ve been worded differently as the incident has caused Sarah harm in her profession. why not use the actual words used in the above quote? Of course it’s to provoke the reader. It’s lazy journalism meant only to satiate a readership that desires to believe that a white student is a bad person.

The remainder of the story, apparently taken from the New Haven Register, as the above quote becomes a little more interesting. Notice their headline. Although it does refer to Sarah as a “white student” which is racially charged by itself, only refers to the other person as a “student”.  It also, in the headline states that Sarah is seeking to exonerate herself, which is factual.

Sarah is seeking the complete unedited video of the encounter from the Yale Police Department. YPD though is claiming it cannot release the video because (from the Atlanta Black Star story) :

The YPD claimed that the footage includes unconfirmed allegations, which excuses them from issuing it to Braasch

That’s interesting. Unconfirmed allegations by whom? It’s not mentioned in the story and it leaves the reader to assume something that may or may not be there, Was it Sarah’s accuser that made those allegations? Note I have never in anything I’ve written mentioned that persons name. Why? I would give her the semblance of anonymity that Sarah should have been afforded, initially. It’s a ridiculous claim though as the accuser posted her (very heavily edited) video, to be viewed world-wide within  hours after the YPD encounter.

So the accuser, who claims racism, or racial animus on the part of Sarah Braasch may post her video of the encounter, yet Sarah is forbidden to publish the official, police record of the incident due to some fuzzy  allegations that were caught on video that of course no one, other than YPD may substantiate.

It should come down to that oft-used, rarely implemented concept of fairness.  One person has the means to tell her story to yes, vilify another person, but the accused has no recourse? The police may keep evidence that would exonerate private because of what? It may be embarrassing to someone? That’s never been how our judicial system was ever supposed to work.

The paragraph beneath the above quote says this:

During the YPD’s cross-examination, Higgins said, “No claim of trespass or harassment was corroborated.”

This is really an ignorant response and it would seem to me a competent lawyer would’ve torn that apart. ”No claim of trespass…was corroborated” has nothing to do with the request for the video. How was Sarah to know that the person she saw in the common room was in fact not a trespasser? I used to work in a building with over a thousand others. I had no way, immediately, to be able to determine if anyone I saw that I either didn’t know or readily recognize, was a trespasser or not. How does not recognizing someone as a resident of the tower, mean that Sarah should not have the video recorded by YPD? Of course, the story states that it will make it’s decision as to whether the video should be released to Sarah by, get this: July 2020. That’s twenty-six months after the event and how would that help Sarah? Well yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

There is no question, at least for me, and I have no evidence to support this, that Sarah’s being blocked, being allowed to be vilified (her word) in every attempt to restore her reputation because of political considerations. The video, showing that Sarah did no wrong, would of course open up Yale, and those in senior administration positions to claims of defamation. Let’s not forget about the international media that just ran with the story, without ever contacting Sarah for her side (Remember how the Covington Catholic School kids were treated by the media?).

There’s a final bit in the story that really got to me. It’s not that Sarah has been treated so poorly but the way she is portrayed.

Braasch, who purports to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder,…

”Purports”.  Here’s the definition of that word in case you’re unfamiliar:

appear or claim to be or do something, especially falsely; profess

So in other words, Sarah is lying by saying in numerous tweets, blog posts, and videos, that she suffers from PTSD. This is outrageous to me, as someone, a combat veteran, who has been diagnosed with PTSD. PTSD occurs to those that have anxiety over traumatic events that have occurred in their lives. Military, as well as first responders (police fire) are those normally considered when PTSD, as a topic, is discussed. It’s not exclusive though. It’s about experiencing a traumatic event (or events) in life and that may apply to anyone, It’s insulting and sickening to me that these “purported” journalists would basically call Sarah a liar. Note that their story was taken from another, and that no one from the Atlanta Black Star ever spoke with Sarah. Yet, they’re absolutely comfortable in calling her a liar.

One last bit: they never contact the accuser. Why is that? Her name is known and it would seem that any competent purported journalist would be able to get at least a simple quote from her over Sarah’s attempt to have the video released. Of course that would mean there would have to be some objectivity inserted into this story and as anyone can see, there is none and there was never meant for there to be any.

Photo Credit: New Haven Register

 

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