Over the last 24 hours I’ve had an entertaining and cordial, if profoundly unfruitful, email dialogue with Brett Shipp, the reporter that generated that WFAA piece on the Copelands. It was gracious of him to reply to my message and responses.
Those exchanges were private and I will keep them so. But his responses did put me in remembrance of a fundamental truth about human nature: One of the most gratifying experiences is having our deeply held biases validated. At the end of the day, Brett wasn’t interested in credible information that didn’t fit his pre-set narrative. I understand. Few of us are. But don’t “investigative reporters” have a little more responsibility to be curious?
To be fair, being assigned to a KCM story presents some challenges to any reporter who actually wants to be fair and present both sides of the story. Like most major media ministries, they are massively media-phobic. They simply will not talk to the press. And like most of them, they come by that allergy honestly. They rarely get a fair shake. They assume that a reporter is interested only in putting the worst possible spin on things.
I can assure you, Brett Shipp will have validated those biases with a vengeance.
Look, here’s the thing. KCM may have done 1,000 things wrong. Or not. I don’t know. What I do know is that the issue Shipp/WFAA were making a ginormous freaking deal about isn’t one of them. Sorry, it just isn’t. (Those readers who know my background and field of expertise are aware that I know whereof I speak.)
What was evident in the report andÂ my dialogue with the reporterÂ wasÂ a huge lack of understanding of (or interest in) how a large non-profit must communicate with its constituents. But then a reporter who had alreadyÂ categorized the CopelandsÂ as “bad guys” because of the house, plane, trips, whatever…might not care so much about the accuracy of a given negative report because, in his mind,Â they deserve the perception it creates.
Such a reporter might even try to spin the purchase of a high volume printer andÂ the commonplace, commonsense personalization of letters as somehow sinister.
I can tell you this with metaphysical certitude, if you inherited a giant media ministry and were committed to running it with crystalline purity and integrityâ€”your internal processes regarding correspondence and prayer requests would look very much like the ones at KCM.
That’s the truth, no matter whatÂ a few disillusioned ex-employees may say.