Thursday, November 11, 2010

WJBK: Make it Bleed So It Can Lead Edition

Short version: statutory rape case between a senior and a freshman in high school seems to be brought to the cops by a venom spewing mother; cops proceed with the case. Mother seems to take the story to Fox 2 and appears on TV with her daughter (daughter's face blurred out) to make accusations of forcible rape, which had not been what had been previously claimed to the police. The piece named and showed the 18 year old who was now being accused on TV of forcible rape (which the police decline to pursue due to sketchiness of the changed story and because the text message evidence that had supported the existence of a statutory rape case also clearly supported the idea that the sex involved was consensual). After being accused of forcible rape, the accused responded that the accuser was a liar. Other classmates of the accused and accuser reportedly "bullied" the accuser after Fox 2 put her on the air to make accusations of a malum in se crime instead of the malum prohibitem crime that was in the prosecutorial pipe. Accuser commits suicide.

What the supposed bullying consisted of is unclear; it's the hot media topic at the moment, and pretty much anything is being classed as bullying. Although I haven't seen anyone yet class being falsely accused of forcible rape as bullying; I kinda think that should count more than most of the things classed in the media as bullying. And if you are raked over the coals for making what on the evidence is a false accusation of forcible rape, should that raking be considered bullying? If so, then shouldn't being accused if forcible rape in the media, even if true, be considered bullying?

Fox 2 this morning was harping on the "bullying" and Kam Carmen was harping on about "it was still statutory, he should go to prison!" in her irritating prissy little way. No mention of the bullying only occurring after the Fox 2 story and its imbalanced outing of an accused and not the accuser, which, even ignoring the patent unfairness of outing the one and not the other, forced the accused to out his accuser and would have allowed their peers to know what was going on anyway from the story. No hint of the idea that being consumed by guilt over making a false accusation of an extremely serious crime could have led to the suicide. No hint that the mother of the accuser appeared to be the instigator behind the pursuit of charges (and that if that's the case, she would be the likely person to look for to a false escalation in what was accused), and that maybe she should be held responsible in the court of public opinion for her daughter's suicide.

So why does Detroit tv suck in this instance?
1) Fox 2 appears to protect the identities of anyone making an accusation of rape, but not the identity the accused, even when the evidence points to the accusation being false.
2) Fox 2 is willing to publicize allegations which do not appear based on fact.
3) Fox 2 publicizes a story which can reasonably be foreseen to lead to identification of the accuser they are purporting to "protect" by making semi-anonymous allegations.
4) Fox 2 is reporting widespread outrage over the apparent falsity of allegations not as a legitimate reaction to such a disgusting thing, but as the hot media topic of bullying.

Brian Dickerson puts the whole thing together at
The ironic thing is his story anonymizes the Fox 2 reporters responsible for the story. They should not be able to hide from this.

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