The issue of intent is at the core of the Boston Police Department’s latest encounter with LED devices. Initial news reports depicted a student deliberately provoking airport security, and newspaper stories throughout the day continued to blare “fake bomb” and “hoax device” in three-inch headlines, even after this narrative was clearly contradicted by the facts. The fact that these organizations value marketability over truth is regrettable but not easily changed.
In this situation, MIT was the one entity with the ability to stand up and counter the dominant “crazed student straps fake bomb to chest” narrative. The MIT News Office’s response squandered this opportunity. The fact that MIT took the trouble to issue a statement designed specifically to appease the public by preemptively passing judgment on one of its own students is troubling. Is MIT really more concerned with the Boston Herald’s readership than with the student body?
The media reaction to this incident demonstrates our need for independent institutions more concerned with seeking out the truth than looking good on the evening news. MIT should fill this role. In this instance, it did not.