Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Media Running Roughshod On Our Constitution? Imagine That!

And so it was that I was minding my business on my way into work this morning when I heard a news story generated by the complaint of a city official against the Mayor.

The story was effectively a rehashing of the complaint, followed by the reporters attempts to verify the story without success. And it dawned on me - this mayor has not yet been convicted.

So I began to think on this story, and how I would feel if I was that Mayor - being tried in the media - the court of public opinion. I thought for a moment about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich - also a media favorite that has not yet been convicted, and I realized how much the media without challenge is trying public officials (and less) with their stories intended for sensationalism, political sabotage, and every other sort of malignment for the sake of filling airspace and entertaining the public.

The Cayce and Caylee Anthony story in Florida has been the CNN Headline News default story every evening for months now, and yet as of today, Ms. Anthony has not yet faced a jury or told her side of the story. This should not yet be a story.

We all know that media bias is ruining jury selection processes all over America, and that premature ejaculation of stories is the media norm that is making it effectively impossible to have fair trials - and yet this is a blatant violation of the concept of "Innocent until proven Guilty".

The reality is that the role of a court is almost irrelevant, or at least of nominal priority when a media tries an individual in public before the constitutionally protected right to a full trial has been given the chance to run its course.

The more I have thought about it this morning, the more it is clear that unless the public rises up to demand compliance with constitutional rights, the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" is irrelevant when the media (and government reporting offices) already begin reporting charges and suspicions before justice has had a chance to be proven.

In reality the concept of "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" is only being given lip service any longer. In practice, media and government agencies are reporting suspicions, scurrilous allegations, unproven charges, and fraudulently manufactured details every day in a growing environment of sensationalism, irresponsibility and non-accountability - entirely spearheaded by the media.
And don't count on the media to hold themselves accountable - they would have to limit themselves - all while letting their competition have the upper hand. Have you heard of the media reporting effectively on its own lack of accountability to the public or the law? Me neither.

And given that the courts can't handle or do an effective job of holding other courts accountable, or frankly begin to grasp, let alone manage the concept of justice, we can only appeal to higher authorities if we expect this matter to ever be dealt with properly.

It is time to demand more of our media. Call in - as I did this morning - and demand that such stories are removed immediately. Write letters. Hold politicians and government agencies accountable and demand more at every level.

Once we have given up the right to be presumed innocent, there is no saving anyone anymore!

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