Bias, lies, omission of facts have no place in journalism
By Amanda Greever | (email@example.com)
Two words, as grating as nails on a chalkboard. And, they’re hard to escape.
On TV. Online. Journalists are under fire daily as their methods, words and actions are judged and even criticized. Fox News is the bane of liberals, while CNN and MSNBC can be far too left-wing for conservative viewers.
The Daily Times doesn’t escape this scrutiny, either. And, it’s understandable, although the majority of journalists, those at The Times included, strive to be unbiased, professional and truthful. After all, journalists have an ethical responsibility to their readers or viewers.
But sometimes, journalists fail their audience. Sometimes, they let their opinions get the best of them. Or they omit important details. Or, God forbid, they lie. Any of the above can destroy the faith and trust built between a journalist and those he or she is trying to reach.
Case in point last week.
“These two young men who had such promising futures — star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”
CNN reporter Poppy Harlow uttered those words last Sunday as a court verdict was handed down against two Steubenville (Ohio) High School football players. Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old in August 2012. The girl was intoxicated and passed out when the rape occurred. The verdict came during CNN’s Candy Crowley show, and Crowley asked a legal analyst: “What’s the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape essentially?”
The analyst noted that she heard Richmond utter some thoughts after the verdict. He reportedly said, “My life is over. No one is going to want me now.”
Strangely enough, Harlow and Crowley didn’t talk about the victim, though. They left out details of the case. How the boys texted about the things they’d done to the girl. Or the photo that was circulated of the passed-out girl with bodily fluids on her. Most importantly, they failed to ask the most important question: What does a 16-year-old girl do when her life has been destroyed by two punks?
The CNN report sparked a fury among viewers and beyond. And those reporters deserved every email, text and tweet calling them out for their actions. I felt outraged, too.
Outraged that someone in the journalism world would be so stupid and short-sighted. And even more outraged that two people, women even, would be so cavalier about the devastation this teenage girl went through. Her life, as she knows it, ended when two boys, almost men, decided their pleasure and their sick perversions were more important than her feelings or well-being.
Yes, they were football players, and I’m sure they were great ones. Who gives a flip? Star athletes can still be star rapists. Maybe Harlow should have been a sports commentator instead and given a play-by-play of the action.
“Look at that power, folks. She is a dead weight, but Richmond is not letting that stop him. Oh, and here comes Mays in for the last drive. They are going all the way, folks. Nothing’s stopping these kids.”
I jest, admittedly at an importune time. However, I don’t know what else to say. I have no words. We live in a culture that perpetuates this cult of personality from our school hallways to athletic stadiums to Capitol Hill and the White House.
And, I have to say that this isn’t exactly new. This isn’t the first time athletes have been glorified, despite their bad (or even felony) behavior. On a high school level, athletes are forgiven bad or failing grades. And on a grown-up level, some choose to believe their favorite player couldn’t have done the atrocious thing of which they’re accused.
These two young men were found guilty of rape, one of the greatest offenses a human can do against another. They violated a 16-year-old girl because they could. They left emotional scars that might fade. However, they will NEVER heal. Whatever happens to these players is their own doing. They deserve no pity, no remorse, no “what could have beens.” Yes, it’s a tragedy this happened. But NOT for them.