That Day My TEDxMileHigh Talk Was Mentioned on Fox News
Last week was interesting. I received an email from a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania saying my TEDxMileHigh video had been used in her class, resulting in disciplinary action against a student. Because the case had not yet been adjudicated by the university, the professor could not speak publicly about the incident.
By the time I did a Google search, the incident was on Fox News, The London Daily Mail, Breitbart News, and a host of alt-right and Christian sites, including CBN, Christian Post, and Franklin Graham. None of those outlets sought comment from me. It is also important to note that none of them waited until the completion of due process at the University, when the professor and the university would be able to speak.
Several of the outlets made accusations about the TEDx talk that showed no one at the media outlet had actually watched the talk, or if they had watched it, had blatantly misrepresented its content.
The only media outlet that asked me to comment was the local newspaper, the Indiana Gazette. Their reporter watched the video, accurately quoted from it, and accurately quoted my words from his conversation with me.
The Fox News article devoted exactly 23 words to me. Five of the words, or 21 percent, were inaccurate. To put that in context, when the New York Times published its article about my son and me, Faith and Family in Transition , in June of 2017, that 4,000 word article had not one single error. Had the New York Times article contained as many errors, per word, as the Fox News article, the Times article would have had 840 errors.
When Franklin Graham tweeted about the story, he asked for prayers for the student, speaking as though the student had been a victim. The truth is that until the university issues its report, we have no idea whether or not the student is giving an accurate depiction of the event.
Truth matters. Jesus taught that it sets us free. That Christian leaders and multiple media outlets would publish information without adequate regard to its truth is frightening. It is non-Christian; it is malevolent. It shows no regard for the professor, the university, the other members of the class, or me. It endorses the single perspective of one young male student, while leaving all other voices silent.
A study posted this past week by three MIT scholars showed that false information travels more quickly on Twitter than true information. Last week the inbox of this blog was flooded with accusations and threats, which caused me to have to shut down all comments and remove contact information from the blog. The negative comments on the TEDx talk bloomed like a mushroom cloud. (It should be noted that the overall response to the TEDx talk, which now stands at over 300,000 views, remains 93 percent positive.)
In posting this blog, I have a fear. I fear I will have to delete comments from the left that are as inflammatory as the comments I have had to delete from the right. Last week I posted a very short piece on Franklin Graham’s decision to tweet about the incident. The number of Facebook friends who wrote pejorative comments about Graham alarmed me enough to pull the post.
Attacking those on the right is not the answer. Advocating for truth is the answer. It takes rigorous inter-subjective work to discern the truth. Major media outlets do not publish a story until they have multiple sources. Even if you do not agree with their editorial leanings, you can trust that they will go to great lengths to discover the truth, and will publish a correction if they make an error.
The deconstructionism we see in postmodernity is partly to blame. It begins with the notion that all truth is constructed truth. But through rigorous inter-subjective discipline it is possible to get very close to objective truth. And it is essential that we try.
I am very concerned about the current disregard for truth we find in America’s highest office, and the trickle-down effect it is having on the rest of American culture. I know the truth of my current status in life. It is on the bio of my blog and the TEDxMileHigh site. I know what was in my video. I was the speaker. TEDxMileHigh did not edit out a single word, breath or step. And the media outlets could have known what was on the video too. All they had to do was watch.
Shame on those who put their own agenda above the truth. Shame on those who were not willing to take 15 minutes to learn the truth about my talk, or wait five days to hear the other side of the story.
Lies destroy. Truth sets us free.
16 thoughts on “That Day My TEDxMileHigh Talk Was Mentioned on Fox News”
What was the problem with using your talk? Am I missing something? You spoke so eloquently I cannot understand anyone complaining about anything you said.
I am not one to comment on any kind of media, however after watching TEDx and visiting your website I continue to be amazed at your willingness to reach out , share honestly and care about others when you are in such deeply personal transition. Thank you! You are able, articulate and NECESSARY…don’t go away!.
Thank you so much Melanie.
Thank you Melanie. I have no intention of going anywhere.
And so it goes…
Truth is such an extraordinary act of faith – a heartfelt response to an issue, question, condition, circumstance or story.
Truth is fearless. It is never reactionary.
I was at your TEDxMileHigh talk, Paula. I not only heard your words of regal honesty, eloquence and triumphant truth: I felt them, and experienced the inspired, awakened, deeply compassionate emotions that stirred most of the 5,000 members of your audience.
The visceral impact of your story, offered with such vulnerability and grace, is as real today as it was then. It is a powerful medicine that, for those who dare taste it, may bring bitterness to the tongue. To the majority of us, it is nectar.
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Oh Lynn, you are such an encouragement.
Keep speaking the truth Paula!
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Paula! I am sooooooooooo happy that I came across your TedTalk. Thank you for sharing your truly inspiring story and what a wonderful storyteller you are! Today is Tuesday March 20th, International Storytelling day and what a great way to celebrate by sharing your story with as many of friends as I can. Thank you for being so honest and authentic and thank you for sharing your story. My world is a whole lot shinier now for knowing your story and being influenced by your words. Keep speaking, keep writing and keep being YOU!! Big Love, Lisa xo
Thank you so much Lisa. It was a pleasure doing the talk.
Let me start by saying I have not seen your video. However, the way I read the article concerning the suspension from class for the student, it was not the content of your video that in any way caused the suspension; moreover, it was the fact that the student voiced his disagreement with the content of your video. Not everyone agrees with you (or anybody else for that matter) 100% of the time. To be dismissed from class because you hold a different opinion than the professor, is overstepping on the professor’s part.
The problem is that when we read something from a news outlet, we accept it as something close to objectively true. However, you say, “The way I read the article…” The problem is that the article only presented half of the story, the student’s half. What is the professor’s story, or the other students in the class? We don’t have that information yet. If all the student was doing was disagreeing with the video, that’s fine. It’s free speech. If, however, the information in the school disciplinary form that was reported on in the local paper is true, there is much, much more to the story. If that information is correct, it wasn’t the studet’s disagreement that was the problem; it was the disrespectful way in which he expressed that disagreement.
It stinks to be misquoted & misrepresented. Stay strong.
As others noted, it’s not your talk, but the student’s actions that would have led to the disciplinary action.
I had a good laugh at the start of your video, some of the annoyances you noted reminded me of things I discuss or have previously discussed in my stand-up comedy routine. Clothing styles & sizes for two, I got a good laugh about pockets that were just stitching and zips on dummy jacket pockets that I doubt would even take the paperclip you mentioned.
You’re spot-on about being magically seen as less competent, my worst example was a co-worker of 16 years duration who suddenly went from “We’ll assemble your 3D printer together” to “This looks really difficult, I’ll do it for you” despite the only change in me at that point being the side of the shirt the buttons were on. I got my revenge, I used that anecdote in my 1 hour true story show, including the night he was in the audience.
Im praying the truth is revealed, Your borthers and sisters in san diego at Missiom Gathering are with you. Terrt Vaughn Can I Help? 619-844-9910
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Thank you so much Terry. It was wonderful being with you there.