Trial By Media

There has been a lot of press about some high profile cases lately.  One of the most recent is the Ferguson, Missouri Grand Jury hearing of the officer who shot Michael Brown.  I will not go into the details of this case…that is not the point of the post.  What I will say is that there is much more misinformation floating around than actual fact.

Let me go on to say that I am not one to blatantly trust the police or the government…that would be in contrast to what history and current events demonstrate.  But…and it is a huge BUT…I trust the press even less.  Some will get mad at me for saying this, and some will be downright insulted, but I have personally been involved in incidents that made the press and have seen first hand that the “facts” as portrayed by the media leave much to be desired.  Often they are just plain wrong, and other times they report selective details in an effort to sway public opinion.  The Grand Jury had hard evidence to look at.  Their task was to investigate whether or not that evidence was sufficient to bring charges against the officer involved.  The Press, on the other hand, did not have access to much of this information, yet they reported the partial truth religiously and in some ways played a part in fueling the tensions that led to the demonstrations and riots.

The press is a very powerful tool and there was perhaps a time when the journalistic code of ethics was held sacred.  Sadly, that does not happen today and some venues don’t even bother to try to give the appearance of impartiality.  Woe to the man who is the victim of this travesty.

Think about this…how many lives have been ruined because the media has been quick to print allegations of a crime?  The police want to give the public some reassurance so they leak a name of a suspect to the press.  This person’s photo is promptly in every living room.  His place of employment is under siege from news hounds attempting to get a scoop.  His home is ground zero for satellite dishes, lights and remote broadcasts.  And then some evidence is uncovered that exonerates the poor guy, but the damage is done.  His boss has fired him so that the rest of the employees can get some work accomplished.  His neighbors won’t speak to him or let their kids play with his.  The Little League tells him that he can’t coach a team anymore because, well, what would people think?  His search for a job is futile because he is now “that guy” who was accused of whatever, so he MUST have done SOMETHING to arouse suspicion, right?  So the only recourse is to uproot his family and move to someplace where hopefully he can become normal again.

We have all seen this, and we all play a part in it.  We watch the news and eagerly look for “closure” when there is a crime in our neighborhood.  We may even call the police and demand that they do more to solve these crimes and keep us safe.  But our thirst for these things we call news is driving a culture that decides the fate of people before they get a fair trial…and may even prevent that trial from having any chance of being impartial.

So I ask you to not be so quick to form your opinions based on what the media feeds you.  Don’t let public sentiment influence you.   Do your best to research all sources and make up your own mind in an educated, informed way.  These are the actions of a free person.  Blindly accepting what the press says (or what the popular opinion is) is the act of a controlled person…a slave.  You have a choice.


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