The Huffington Post headline screams:
Indiana’s Memories Pizza Reportedly Becomes First
Business To Reject Catering Gay Weddings
Memories Pizza is a nine-year-old shop in downtown Walkerton, Indiana, just a few blocks from John Glenn High School. It’s owned by an openly-Christian couple, the O’Connors, who decorate their shop with mementos of their faith in Christ. So how does a small business in a small town wind up making headlines around the world as the new avatar of Christian bigotry?
Perhaps, you say, they brought this upon themselves, seeking out publicity for their strict biblical views.
Some cursory internet forensics shows how it happened…or rather, how it was made to happen.
ABC-57 reporter Alyssa Marino’s editor sends her on a half-hour drive southwest of their South Bend studio, to the small town of Walkerton (Pop. ~2,300). According to Alyssa’s own account on Twitter, she “just walked into their shop [Memories Pizza] and asked how they feel” about Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Owner Crystal O’Connor says she’s in favor of it, noting that while anyone can eat in her family restaurant, if the business were asked to cater a gay wedding, they would not do it. It conflicts with their biblical beliefs. Alyssa’s tweet mentions that the O’Connors have “never been asked to cater a same-sex wedding.”
What we have here is — as we called in journalism school jargon — “no story.” Nothing happened. Nothing was about to happen.
If I were forced to mark out a story line, it would be this: A nice lady in a small town tries to be helpful and polite to a lovely young reporter from “the big city.”
In other words, Memories Pizza didn’t blast out a news release. They didn’t contact the media, nor make a stink on Twitter or Facebook. They didn’t even post a sign in the window rejecting gay-wedding catering jobs. They merely answered questions from a novice reporter who strolled into their restaurant one day – who was sent on a mission by an irresponsible news organization.
Next: ABC-57 anchor Brian Dorman leads the evening newscast dramatically with this:
Only on ABC-57 News tonight. We went into small towns looking for reaction to the Religious Freedom Act. We found one business, just 20 miles away from a welcoming South Bend…with a very different view.
Alyssa Marino tweets the genesis
of the Memories Pizza scoop.
Notice that his city of South Bend is “welcoming,” but that small-town business is not. It’s very different. That’s why ABC-57 “went into small towns,” as if embarking on a safari to aboriginal lands.
Not only did ABC-57 News create that story ex nihilo (out of nothing), but the next day, the station’s Rosie Woods reported on the social-media backlash against the Christian pizza shop owners.
“Our Facebook page has been blowing up with comments after we aired that story last night,” said Woods.
At this point, even my old Leftist journalism professors would be grinding their teeth and rending their garments.
You see, not only did ABC-57 manufacture the story with an ambush interview, it then doubled-down by making the reaction to the story into another story to give the sense of momentum, as if it were growing at its own impetus. Yet, everything about it is a fabrication.
Memories Pizza didn’t “publicly vow to reject gay weddings” as HuffPo says it. The O’Connors were just, quite literally, minding their own business.
Back in the ABC-57 studio, Rosie Woods read three negative social media comments attacking the pizza shop owners, and then said, “And that’s just one side of this debate that’s heating up as more people and business owners speak up about the law.”
She then quotes one (1) person, the owner of another business, who agreed with the O’Connors. Seems that “just one side of this debate” deserves more attention than the other.
This false Buzzfeed headline has been seen hundreds of thousands of times.
The unnamed ABC-57 editor then sends another reporter door-to-door on Walkerton’s rather depressed-looking main drag, trying to get reactions from other business people about the pizza shop owners. And the story inexorably snowballs onward, with only man’s yearning for truth to propel it.
All of the blog traffic and social media activity led to about 36,000 Facebook shares at ABC57.com on the original Alyssa Marino story less than 24 hours after it aired.
BuzzFeed posted its own inaccurate headline, with the kicker: ”The Internet has unleashed its wrath.”
All of those eyeballs benefit the TV station, which sells advertising on its website. It also helps several young, minor-market reporters who hustled and stumbled their way into the national spotlight. But don’t blame them. Blame the editor.
Meanwhile, over at Yelp.com, more than a thousand “reviews” of Memories Pizza rapidly accumulated, quickly overwhelming the positive comments from actual customers who like the pizza, the hospitality and the small-town charm. Folks who never heard of Walkerton attacked Crystal O’Connor’s business, her morality and her Lord. Many of the remarks included racially charged descriptions of genitalia and sex acts. “Reviewers” also posted pictures of naked men, of Adolf Hitler shouting “Ich habe ein pizza” (I have a pizza), and of Jesus gesturing with his middle finger. Over on Facebook, the restaurant’s 5-star average rating rapidly plunged to one star, as non-customers slammed away at Crystal’s little business.
In Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, a manifesto of political power, Rule No. 12 says, in part:
Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)
The Left doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as they get what they want. They’re willing — no, they’re eager — to sacrifice a small-town business, and it’s owners.
Lest you think I’m being too dramatic. Late Wednesday, word comes that Jess Dooley, a female coach at Concord High School 45 minutes away in Elkhart, has been suspended after tweeting:
Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?