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MedicTJ

Abusing Freedom

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Normally every weekday morning, I tune into the 2-hour sports debate show, "First Take" on ESPN. This morning I witnessed something that disturbed me to my core, and it's something that has become all too prevalent over the past decade or so.

The two journalists who debate topics on this particular show are Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. The topic that started this whole fiasco dealt with 4 university of Alabama football players that had been suspended from the team after at least two of them were implicated in an assault/burglary. These young men were charged, not convicted. They hadn't yet even seen a courtroom yet Mr. Smith took it upon himself to hold up his 2nd-hand copy of the incident and read all 4 of their names loudly while staring angrily into the camera.

What makes me sick to my stomach about this kind of behavior is what I call the, "Nancy Grace" tactic. You see, Ms. Grace likes to find cases that either haven't yet seen trial or are currently holding proceedings....and then pass judgment herself on the defendants. You see, she can get away with this kind of thing by making full and strategic uses of the words, "allegedly" and "charged". This is the tactic that Mr. Smith used on that show this morning.

Basically, a journalist can say just about anything they like concerning the case and the defendant....so long as they use either or both of those two terms in doing so.

It has to stop.

I realize that a large majority of cases that make it to the national level of the press are "slam-dunk" cases, but what about the ones that aren't? What about the times they get it wrong? What happens after someone's name has been smeared all over the front page of the paper, only to be exonerated of all charges later on? Have you once ever seen a bold-print apology from a major newspaper on the front page detailing how they were wrong in their assumptions?

Take the case of Richard Jewell, for example. The media ruined his life, and he passed away from "natural" causes at the ripe old age of....44. Jewell was blamed by every major news outlet for the Olympic Park bombing at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. He was later completely exonerated of the crime and (as far as I can find) has never received a formal apology from any of the major networks that smeared his name. In fact, even after Eric Robert Rudolph was convicted and sentenced for the bombing, NBC has still stuck to their story about Jewell...even though they settled in court with him for $500,000.

I understand the importance for freedom of the press, but at what cost? When one freedom is used to infringe upon the rights and freedoms of one or more individuals, there's something seriously wrong.

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