A bit ago, a friend was interviewed by someone from the Associated Press. He had a lot of really fierce, abolitionist things to say (because that’s just what he’s like), and I was so excited for him. When the actual article came out, it was like nothing we’d all expected. They barely mentioned him, and when they did refer to him, they made up quotes that he never said, they completely ignored all of the fierce things he said, and they basically misrepresented him.
I’m big on quotations. I’ve always had a habit of quoting my friends when they say particularly entertaining or insightful things. But even in my own journal — even when I’m the only person who’s ever going to see it — I don’t use quotation marks if I don’t have it exactly right, down to remembering whether they used the word “a” or the word “the.” Properly quoting people is very, very important to me. It’s simply part of who I am.
So when I found out how my friend’s interview was butchered (likely, according to friends, by the editors), I was absolutely bewildered. I felt a little like a small child learning for the first time that life isn’t fair, and sometimes bad things happen. How can you use quotation marks and attribute words to someone if he never said them? I just don’t understand it. It’s just not how it’s supposed to work.
And then I got angry. How dare they misquote him? How dare they sanitize his message and misrepresent his views? How dare they not treat him with the respect he deserves? I never thought that journalism was perfect. I know people have biases. I know that the mainstream doesn’t like views that challenge the status quo. But I didn’t realize that they would actually fabricate quotations. And I hate that they essentially silenced him by implying things he never meant and blatantly ignoring most of what he said.