Some say criticism of North Andover School administrators in the Erin Cox case is a rush to judgement. No one knows what information was revealed behind closed doors, they say. And based on comments from other teens at the drinking party, Cox wasn’t the innocent, good friend the media has painted her to be.
On someone’s phone there’s video of Cox drinking and puking, they say.
Maybe that’s true. But the rush to judgement is a two-way street, as the local Valley Patriot newspaper demonstrated yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Duggan published a story citing anonymous law enforcement sources in North Andover who claimed high school student Erin Cox was to appear in court on charges of possession of alcohol and that her family was returning donations from supporters.
Hours later, Duggan was forced to retract the story and publish this one, which drops the first claim and retains the latter.
Other publications blindly ran with Duggan’s new information and looked stupid for it later in the day. This Yahoo! article at least captured the uncertainty of it all.
This isn’t the first time Duggan has rushed out misinformation. On the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, in the frenzy to be first with new details, he was on Facebook reporting an inflated death toll. He did so with the gusto of a football commentator announcing a touchdown. It’s an approach I’ve called him out on in the past. To his credit, Duggan pulled the original story and was honest about it.
This whole affair captured a human weakness we all share: We love to find things to get outraged about and then shoot our mouths off before we have all the facts.
It’s always been this way, and it won’t change. We are, after all, human beings.
The best we can do is acknowledge that we rushed to judgement once we’re proven wrong. Doing so takes courage. Few things are as humiliating as discovering you’ve made an ass of yourself. But the truth always comes out eventually. The key is what we do with the truth once we have it.