When reporter Jennifer Stewart calls Superintendant Albert Seymour to find out about the rule forbidding the singing of the national anthem, he tells her unequivocably that the Harrison School District has no such rule.
In fact, the district has a rule that students are to "stand at respectful, silent attention" during the daily playing of the national anthem over the intercom. To say that this rule translates into a ban on the singing of the anthem is a distortion of the truth, but Ms. Stewart's phrasing of the question is misleading, and Dr. Seymour, concerned about the image of the school in the wake of budget negotiations, immediately becomes defensive that she should even ask such a thing. Neither party takes the time to listen or explain the ramifications of what has been said, and the result is a news story that is damaging to all parties involved.
The account of the conversations between Ms. Stewart and Dr. Seymour and other members of the school administration highlights the unscrupulousness of news reporters who seek "facts" to support their own version of the truth, a version that will give rise to the greatest public interest. It also exposes the influence of politics on the actions taken by school administrators, and emphasizes most of all the danger of communication that is either lacking or less than honest and straighforward (Chapter 13).