Saturday, May 27, 2006

When inmates take over the tabloid asylum

Some days the news is not kind to those who work in cable "journalism".

First there is this from the Scott Peterson beat.

A former juror who sent Scott Peterson to death row says she's been corresponding for nearly a year with the former fertilizer salesman convicted of murdering his pregnant wife.

That's nice, but the lede is really buried farther down in the story.

In December, Nice suffered a major breakdown and was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward, she said, explaining she's had a difficult life, including four children by two men. She now lives with her mother.

So we had a loon on the jury that sent a man to Death Row. I tell you, it gets harder and harder to be a death penalty supporter.

Of course, the juror is working on a book. That's why she is willing to go public to People magazine. Yet, again, People is sparing with the information it doles out to its readers in its EXCLUSIVE story.

People's article does not mention Nice's involvement in a book deal, nor does it mention that one of the magazine's own staffers is authoring the jurors' tome. "There were only so many elements we could include" in the story, the magazine said.

(HT: Crime, Guns and Video Tape )

Then there is this out of Durham in the Duke lacrosse case.

DURHAM -- A lawyer with the state NAACP said the civil rights organization intends to seek a gag order in the Duke lacrosse case, and a journalist who participated in a forum with him on Wednesday said media coverage of the alleged rape may deprive the alleged victim of her legal rights to a fair trial.

All those activist groups piled on to the publicity train when the allegations first surfaced. They thought they could further their own agendas with a flashy case that pitted black against white, poor against rich, helpless women against swaggering college athletes. The victim was their Joan of Arc.

Then it blew up in their faces. We saw the evidence and the train went off the rails. So now they want a gag order. Now they worry about rights, due process, and fair trials.

Another story out of Durham shows how concerned the community was about due process in the beginning.

Constitutional lawyer Alex Charns says a police poster unfairly sullied the names of 46 Duke University lacrosse players, implying all were guilty of raping an exotic dancer before the district attorney announced he had sufficient evidence to indict only three.

Charns, representing one of the unindicted players, has requested a police internal investigation in connection with the poster that declared the alleged victim "was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed. This horrific crime sent shock waves throughout our community

Watch the Durham PD back pedal in this story.

This transcript from 10 April shows tabloid television at its worst. Nancy Grace and Wendy Murphy make flat out assetions of fact that have no basis in reality. Today they warn us against "defense spin" when the evidence comes out. Yet here you can see them mindlessly repeating the DA's spin that has been shown to be false: torn fingernails, physical injury, cooperating witnesses.

Read this letter by a famous Duke professor to see how the Duke community stood up for innocent until proven guilty.

As this article makes clear, the activistas really don't want quiet. They just want the lawyers to be quiet so they can continue to pontificate without contradiction.

UPDATE: Robert KC Johnson has another good post.

UPDATE 2: In Cleopatra's Nose, Daniel Boorstein quotes Josh Billings to underline the importance of "negative discovery" to modern science: "It ain't what a man don't know as makes him a fool, but what he does know as ain't so." By that measure Wendy Murphy and Nancy Grace are enormous fools who parade their ignorance on TV. Sadly, TV journalism will happily put fools on and call them experts as long as it fills airtime.

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