National Review Self-Destructs Over Covington Catholic

Daniel Ashman
4 min readJan 22, 2019


National Review may have just irreparably damaged their reputation. Their response to Covington Catholic — where innocent kids were framed, doxed, and then threatened with mob violence — is a total mess.

National Review brands itself as the moral arbiter for Republicans. For instance, their editor in chief, Rich Lowry, wrote that the primary reasons for opposing Trump included his “character” and “temperament” while their senior editor, Jonah Goldberg, explained he would never vote for Trump because he is intent on “keeping a clear conscience.”

This makes their response to Covington Catholic especially shocking.

When the story initially broke, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School ignorantly apologized before they knew what happened, Lowry quickly became involved to give his hot take, “A necessary and appropriate apology.”

Lowry is a grown man, tweeting to a national audience of over one hundred fifty thousand Twitter followers, which then gets amplified by his colleagues at National Review who retweet him. He is speaking to a national audience.

What code of morality, exactly, indicates that Lowry should nationally shame a group of kids on a field trip? There is something bizarre going on when a man demands apologies from children he doesn’t even know.

Lowry then put out a second tweet, admitting the Covington boys hadn’t acted as badly as he felt at first, however, the “obnoxious, dumb, and disrespectful behavior of the teens needed an apology regardless.”

By his own admission, he hadn’t reviewed the facts before his first tweet. He was clueless when he shamed and smeared the innocent Covington boys.

He tweeted stuff, numerous times, without doing the most basic fact checks possible. Don’t editors know to fact check before they post?

I’m not an editor of a national publication like Lowry is, but it seems to me, he should fact check something before sharing it across the world. This seems even more important given that the target of his attack were boys on a field trip.

National Review also published an article by their deputy managing editor Nicholas Frankovich, titled, “The Covington Students Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross.” Frankovich wrote the boys were “evil.”

Later, Lowry had to change his stance yet again, deleted his first tweet and Frankovich’s article, and posted an entry on National Review’s web page. He concluded this was a “reminder — even for an old hand like me — that it’s best not to make snap judgments.”

This is like a surgeon disfiguring someone on the operating table and going “oops, that was a good reminder, it’s best not to do surgery while drunk.”

By the time Lowry’s entry on National Review went live, he had already taken part in numerous efforts to dox, smear, and shame, innocent boys who were simply on a field trip. His entry includes no apology to the boys.

Goldberg retweeted Lowry’s original tweet to his more than three hundred thousand followers. As of the writing of this article, he has no tweet up apologizing to the kids.

Because of the national doxing of the boys, they are in a crisis, receiving death threats.

Goldberg’s response was flippant. Between his original retweet of Lowry, and posting photos of his dogs, he sneered at his followers who he felt were making too big a deal of the situation by pinning this to his Twitter homepage: “People are losing their minds.”

Goldberg’s also made a tweet to defend Frankovich’s piece, “It’s almost like we run a magazine with different people reaching different conclusions or having different opinions. The horror.”

Clarification from Goldberg is important here. Is his position that Frankovich’s the-boys-are-evil position was reasonable? Is it National Review policy that doxing children is okay?

The Frankovich article presented the point of view of Nathan Phillips, the leftist agitator, unquestioningly. Frankovich gave no space to what the boys of Covington Catholic had to say.

National Review took Frankovich’s article down, and put up an article by Kyle Smith smashing the “popular press” for “vilifying” the innocent kids. Smith’s article makes no mention of the vilification of the kids by National Review, Lowry, or Goldberg.

Then there is David French, senior writer at National Review. Here is a religious man who spent “days of prayer, reflection, and serious study of the possibilities” of himself as President of the United States. If there was anyone at National Review who was going to step up and protect the innocent boys who had just attended the March for Life, it should have been French.

But he didn’t. When the story was breaking, and someone had to slow the mob down, French was nowhere to be seen.

The initial pushback against the anti-Covington boys lies came from independent minded thinkers on Twitter, people who French may look down upon. It was people like Mike Cernovich, Jack Posobiec, Will Chamberlain, and American Greatness senior contributor Julie Kelly, among others. They doubted the initial narrative, investigated, and helped spread awareness to protect the kids.

After it became clear and easy for pundits to follow along, French tweeted that, “Malicious people act on partial information… It’s disgusting. It’s evil.”

French should clarify. Does he feel Lowry is disgusting? Is Frankovich evil? Will he disavow Goldberg?

French thought about leading America, but it turns out, he can’t even lead a publication away from destruction.

National Review wanted to lead American conservatives. The Covington Catholic crisis was an opportunity for them. Innocent Christian boys were framed, doxed, and smeared. People even offered bounties to incite mob violence against them. National Review could have responded with bold leadership to protect the Covington Catholic boys.

Instead, National Review failed. Various National Review leaders failed repeatedly in catastrophic and systematic ways. Legitimate editors at legitimate publications don’t smear innocent children.