news purveyors and smear merchants
there was a great post today on washingtonpost.com regarding John Mark Karr (creepy dudes always have three names, don't they?) and the embarrassment of the current JonBenet situation.
the highlight: "A strange, creepy character emerges from the shadows of Thailand and says he killed JonBenet Ramsey a decade ago? A guy with no known connection to the family? A yutz whose own relatives, including an ex-wife who hates him, says he wasn't even in Colorado at the time? This is what produces 25-hour-a-day cable coverage, causes the network morning shows to go nuts and even tops the nightly news two days straight? Aren't the TV types who pumped up this empty balloon just a little bit ashamed? Oh, and does the New York Daily News run a retraction for its banner headline "SOLVED"?"
why aren't more people outraged by this fiasco? isn't the press supposed to be the great equalizer between the public and the news-holders, who probably don't want the public to know what's going on? there needs to be a balance between those who have the information and those who need it, and its up to journalists to maintain this balance and not jump to conclusions because serious consequences can and will follow.
yet, the devolution of the media has caused such a blistering desire to deliver the news first, because the first impression is the most important to the news channels, and the hype purveyors (or smear merchants, ah thank you, bill o'reilly. the one funny thing you've ever said). the media wields a lot of power, so who is going to make sure that they are being truthful and honest with the public (and if they aren't, who can hold them accountable)?
it can't be the government, since the media often serves as the yang to the government's yin and for our own safety, we need them to squabble over facts, because the truth could be shaken out somehow. it can't be the public, because how could the public fight for truth when it might not ever know what the truth is? the real solution is to leave it up to the media itself, for better or for worse, and hope that someone with a soul and a desire to do what's right will speak up. thank you, howard kurtz. the news about karr's innocence perpetuates the case's messiness, but acknowledging the media's gross misstep is the right thing to do. karr is creepy, yes, but he is innocent until proven guilty, and it looks like that won't happen in this case (and that isn't up to journalists anyway!).
everyone who reported on this case being closed needs to be ashamed of themselves. the crucial step in our judiciary process was skipped because those who deliver information delivered a verdict instead.
also, kudos to al franken for sticking up for himself agaisnt the national review. while publishers are in it to make money (a million little pieces ring a bell?), doubleday should be ashamed of itself for not using one of its underpaid fact checkers on Peter Schweizer's book:
"In his book Schweizer makes up some statistic that I’ve hired something like a 107 people during my career and only one has been black. First of all, it appears that Schweizer came up with his number by rather creatively manipulating the definition of who I’ve hired. For example, he counts the writers of my projects. Well, I am a writer, often the sole writer, on all my projects. So he counts me several times. And, yes, I admit it. I am always white."