What West can learn from “The View”

After spending the day with the crew, reporter Isabelle Robles shares what the day was really like and how things need to change from here.


Isabelle Robles

Jade Merriwether ’17 gets her makeup done by “The View” makeup artist Karen Dupiche shortly before her interview.

When it was announced a few weeks ago that The View was coming to our school to film a segment on the election, I was taken aback. Sure, West High made national news when The New York Times covered the protests, but why was The View hopping on the train so late after the election? I was excited but had no idea what to expect. Would Rayven-Symone be coming? What about Whoopi?! But after being with the crew that day (which lacked Whoopi and Rayven and instead had pointed questions), I can say I sure as heck wouldn’t have predicted what I saw. And what I saw was disappointing.

At around 8:15 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 6 I headed into the library at West where Sunny Hostin, Clay Aiken and the crew were conducting interviews with students. The other people in the room — Dr. Shoultz, a district PR person, two yearbook photographers, a parent and the librarians — were talking in hushed tones, something uncommon in our library as it is typically filled with chattering students. It felt like a sigh of relief was being welled up at the ceiling of the large room, waiting to be released.

Around the time I came in, I saw Jade Merriwether come into the room. She had her makeup done at the long tables in the west side of the library; the tables, typically filled with students chatting and finishing up work, were now crowded with makeup and luggage, including Sunny Hostin’s Louis Vuitton carryon adorned with a pink puff. I milled around the room, observing the students chatting with the talent, as the producers called them, and the crew talking amongst themselves and ordering around equipment. Clay Aiken was firing questions at a student about their life at home before filming, and I couldn’t help but think he was demanding a response that he could work with.

I ultimately made my way back to Jade being interviewed near the Salinger lab. Sunny would ask her questions quickly, each earning a prompt response. After she was done, a producer said something along the lines of “great job guys” then lifted a yellow legal pad and said “Okay Sunny, now some questions.” She read a list aloud of different questions than she originally asked and afterward Sunny looked into the camera and repeated them. The producer then said “Okay, and reactions.” Sunny took a second, then faced the camera. The cameraman motioned to her, saying he was ready. She tilted her head to the side and said “Oh.” She reset, and then nodded endearingly. Then reset, and took on a look of concern. The producer said “We’re good” and she returned to her natural disposition.

I was stunned. A few days later, I asked Jade, just to clarify, if I was dreaming, or if Sunny really did that, faking reactions all for show. Jade confirmed it; that’s what happened.  

It wasn’t until the end of that day that I understood what people meant when they said “the media is biased.” I thought anyone who said such things were goons–how could The Wall Street Journal, CNN, 60 Minutes, etc. be biased? I mean, of course, everything has a slight slant to it, but they were just doing their job of reporting on the news that was happening.

But later that night when I got home from the day and discussed it with my parents I said, You know, it really frustrates me that they were employing reporting techniques like that, but it made me realize that I’ve had this wrong in my head the whole time. The View is a part of the media, and so all of those opinion talk shows and all of that. I always disregarded them, thought that since they were obviously biased, and often times lacking real substance, no one took them seriously. But they’re the bias media everyone has been talking about.

So, why do you care about the midnight thoughts of a seventeen-year-old journalist? Because it’s a lesson to be skeptical of the media. I’m not here to tell you what The View got right or wrong, the students involved in the whole process can. I am here to tell you that in a time where “alternative facts” are being thrown around by the White House and opinion is slowly filtering it’s way into the media, it’s important to direct your attention away from sources with an agenda and towards the truth.

And now you may say “Ah, but young girl, I only follow news sites and legitimate peoples on my Facebook page, I do not need to worry about such frivalecies.” Think again, kind fellow, and utilize the Wall Street Journal’s Blue feed, red feed to find out what way your social feed slants. After all, when it seems as though information is blasting itself into our faces from every which way (remember watching the nightly news and not being able to sit unscathed by political commercials just a few months ago? It made me miss the FarmersOnly.com commercials–I know, sad times.) it is very easy to misattribute, or even forget, where we saw the information we did. This source amnesia can be prevented when you clean up your feed from misleading information and are only exposed to honesty.

The truth is if an article and its subsequent Facebook post gets no traction, the knowledge will stop there. Remember when Mahatma Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world?” Well, here is your time to shine:

After you read an article, or perhaps watch a segment on a “school in turmoil,” think to yourself, “What is the goal of the person producing this content?” If the answers sway more towards “to get views” or “to push an agenda on people” rather than “to educate on the truth” or “to represent the sources interviewed accurately,” think again about whether or not it is reliable. Don’t share, and the “news” won’t spread.