Following the election of Donald Trump, the Mainstream Media have gone into overdrive with unverified hate crime stories to prove that with the dawn of the Donald, America has turned its back on Muslims living in the country.
The media’s lack of fact-checking elevated the story of New York City college student Yasmin Seweid to a nationwide moral panic.
Seweid claimed to be a victim of Trump-inspired hate crime, saying that three men attempted to pull off her hijab, called her a terrorist, and yelled Trump’s name while New Yorkers sat idly by and watched.
The police have since arrested Seweid and charged her with making a false report, leaving credulous reporters with egg on their faces.
Before it was known the story was a hoax, the mainstream media reported the story as a fact, without bothering to verify its credibility. The initial reporting lacked qualifiers like “alleged” and “claimed”.
Buzzfeed uncritically reported her story, then interviewed her asking for more information about the allegations. They have since issued an update to the story, yet no apology for sub-standard reporting was given.
Raw Story, meanwhile, went step ahead and claimed Seweid’s story is an “all too common occurrence” in Trump’s America:
In what has become an all too common occurrence since the election of Donald Trump, a Muslim woman was verbally assaulted as a “terrorist” by three men on a New York City subway platform as one of them tried to snatch her hijab off her head.
Newsday, following their unverified reporting, published letters from their readers decrying the crime as “deplorable” and slamming New Yorkers for not doing anything to stop the crime that never happened. One letter claimed:
No one should be surprised by the actions of the men who intimidated Yasmin Seweid, after this country elected a person who preaches intolerance and thrives on division. But to see fellow New Yorkers turn away from an 18-year-old woman who is being physically and verbally harassed is truly disheartening.
I’m glad this young woman spoke out, and I hope she finds justice.
Such instances of bad reporting isn’t just one time thing. Heat Street reported last month how a YouTuber sent a fake hate crime story to Mic journalist Sarah Harvard, to check how much scrutiny journalists apply to alleged Trump-inspired hate crime.
Needless to say, the journalist tweeted the account without asking any questions and taking the story at face value.
Stories about fabricated hate crimes don’t help the real victims of such crimes, whose stories will now be doubted and face relentless scrutiny.