Let's not erode our legal system with Murdoch-style sensationalized infotainment

Yesterday – 12 jurors in Florida found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her daughter. With it’s twists and turns – the trial gained nationwide notoriety – and dominated mainstream news reports for the better part of 3 years. Many were shocked by the verdict – as Anthony’s guilt was a foregone conclusion in most of the media.

So not only does this case remind us of just how our legal system works – that it’s up to 12 jurors and not a team of TV pundits to determine guilt or innocence – but this case also highlighted the perversion of our most basic legal tenant – that we are innocent until proven guilty.

It’s a strong legal system that keeps our nation from descending into chaos like Somalia. Let’s not erode it with Murdoch-style sensationalized infotainment. Instead, we should consider the old Canadian system of only reporting on crimes after convictions have been made, and never naming an accused in the media.

Comments

Mark Saulys's picture
Mark Saulys 8 years 28 weeks ago
#1

The "rights of the accused" exist to PROTECT THE INNOCENT not to priveledge the guilty. Dispensing with those rights is a major step in laying the foundation for a police state.

jmaximus9's picture
jmaximus9 8 years 28 weeks ago
#2

We need more freedom of the press not less. I agree the whole mediafest is a bit much, but kick 'em when their down kick 'em when their up.

louisehartmann's picture
louisehartmann 8 years 28 weeks ago
#3

Is it freedom when someone is convicted 24/7 in the press? How can anyone be innocent until proven guilty that way?

Jeanie's picture
Jeanie 8 years 28 weeks ago
#4

Re: Casey Anthony:

I was sick of hearing about the case and didn't follow it, but you couldn't help but hear about the case because it was everywhere. However, I disagree that people only formed their opinions based on the lawyers on tv--you could watch every bit of the trial online (as my obsessed mother did) or watch most of it on tv (which edited out all of Casey's swearing, etc.).

The jury knew Casey went on a wild partying spree for the 31 days after her child was dead, till she was caught. They saw pictures of her drunken in bars, getting a tattoo; they knew about her lies about "Zanny the Nanny" (she pumped her kid full of Xanax); they knew she Googled "chloroform" 84 times (the kid was chloroformed); they knew her detective father smelled a decomposing body in the car; etc. etc. Ordinarily I would think that how you react to a case (like a rape charge) shouldn't be held against you. But this female showed not one ounce of compassion and acted in a way that no sane or innocent person would act. Coupled with the myriad of evidence the State came up with, plus the fact that no one on the jury even took one note in the 32 days of testamony; it was very, very difficult to understand the "not guilty" vote, even for someone like me who didn't follow the case (got my info from all the articles yesterday and my obsessive mother).

Blame the prosecution all you want, but sometimes, no matter how much proof you supply, people refuse to believe it. Look at the birthers who still believe Obama was born in Kenya or who don't believe in climate change, even tho' the polar ice caps are melting.

They jury didn't even find this woman guilty of child abuse or endangerment. People want to know that the justice system works, and when they are flooded with information and the result doesn't make sense, they get upset. Liberals get upset at regressive court decisions that affect us detrimentally. If we only heard the Nancy Grace's of the world and not a speck of what went on in the trial, then I would agree with you. But there was so much in this case that was known, proven or admitted that they jury was privy to, and they still didn't want to convict (i.e., one juror had a cruise to get to on 7/8).

I think this case just struck people as a huge miscarriage or justice. The real problem, in my mind, wasn't that this particular case was on all the talk shows and CNN (annoying as it was), it's when cases like this or the Aruba girl case are plastered all over the tv in order to take people's minds off what is actually happening in the government so we don't notice.

Gene Savory's picture
Gene Savory 8 years 28 weeks ago
#5

Maybe the movie "Running Man" was not science fiction. It could have been a documentary from the future.

Jeanie's picture
Jeanie 8 years 28 weeks ago
#6

One positive takeaway from this trial, to me, is that when people have lots of information, I think the opinions they form are better than if they only have information that is filtered thru people in the media or politicians. Why not have the Don Siegelman case plastered all over and let people know what is going on? That’s what the media should do, if it were responsible. We liberals have to find a way to appeal to the media-crazed sensationalistic American public instead of our normal way, which never seems to work. It works for Fox.

Gene Savory's picture
Gene Savory 8 years 28 weeks ago
#7

I recently sent a letter to our local newspaper concerning the Orlando, Florida, groups who were feeding the hungry in a public park and being arrested because they did not have a permit. The groups can only get two permits per year, and feeding more than 25 people at a time required the permit. Lots of folks getting arrested.

The local paper thought my letter was about feeding the hungry. It was not. The point was that I had to seek the news on my own because local media ignored this and many other relevant stories so they could do their infotainment routines.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 8 years 28 weeks ago
#8

America needs a hobby!

JLC's picture
JLC 8 years 28 weeks ago
#9

Thom - - This is off topic, but regarding your discussion at the beginning of yesterday's show about a balanced budget amendment not necessarily being a good thing, please see this excellent article by Prof. John Harvey correcting common fallacies about federal budget deficits being bad:

http://blogs.forbes.com/johntharvey/2011/07/02/learn-to-love-the-deficit/

Prof. Harvey is a Post-Keynesian economist with an understanding of MMT (Modern Monetary Theory). See also this article by MMT economist Prof. Stephanie Kelton entitled, "What Happens When the Government Tightens Its Belt" : http://neweconomicperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-happens-when-government-tightens.html

leighmf's picture
leighmf 8 years 28 weeks ago
#10

Maybe there are countless books and movies in which cryptographers inserted important post-World War information which can only be understood now.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 8 years 28 weeks ago
#11

Submitted by leighmf on 6. July 2011 - 4:54 http://www.thomhartmann.com/users/leighmf/blog/2011/07/anthony-jury-decided-correctly. An additional note about cadaverine: I'll never forget my dear old white-haired organic chem professor from Union Carbide saying, "There's nothing in the world that smells like it," and the only place it occurs is dead human flesh. Had there been volatile cadaverine detectable to the nose in the cans, it would have been a simple enough matter to chemically demonstrate the presence of cadaverine, establishing a scientifically proven connection between dead human flesh to the canned air from the car trunk, provided that the protocols for collecting the canned air samples were scientifically correct. Or, the jury could have at least been given a whiff of cadaverine to compare with what was in the cans.
It is one thing for a criminal defense to come up with red herrings with long and winding tails, but once the prosecution starts coming up with bogus exhibits, a jury becomes suspicious, already knowing they have to pass judgement based only on what hasn't been excluded in sidebars and in chambers. XXXXX

Writer89's picture
Writer89 8 years 28 weeks ago
#12

You are right, Thom, as usual. (Except about the Canadian system; that type of secrecy is not healthy in a democracy, IMHO.) Our justice system was designed to make sure that we only punish people that we know are guilty, not to exact revenge because we think somebody is probably guilty. (Let's leave that to Texas.) This is a perfect test case for the idea that it is better to let a few guilty people go free than to punish any innocent person. If the prosecution screwed up, the onus is on them. I know it's frustrating for people to feel that justice hasn't been done, but the lynch mob that is forming as a result of this verdict scares me a lot more than the possibility that this little girl's murder may go unavenged.

michaelb44's picture
michaelb44 8 years 28 weeks ago
#13

A small symptom of a larger problem. How can 12 people be tricked into a verdict that makes no common sense. A mother does not know where her daughter is for 31 days, and is not at least guilty of neglect. Are we no longer capable of critical thought? Of course these are the same people who voted for Rick Scott, need we say more.

artdeco's picture
artdeco 8 years 28 weeks ago
#14

I agree ... the Media does pretend to be judge and jury ...of course they exist to " fan the flames ".. and if there are no flames to fan .. they will start a fire ...also...it has been my observation that people enjoy the idea of REVENGE.. eventhough it is always futile because no amount of vengence will bring someone back from the dead and if society acts as badly as the killer in their actions, then WE are no better in the end...AKA .. the Death Sentence... Killing is wrong..or is it ? Iraq,Afghanistan,Somalia,Libia,Syria,Vietnam,Korea,etc. it appears that humans have a LOT of vengence to act upon.

artdeco's picture
artdeco 8 years 28 weeks ago
#15

Michael I gather you are trying to say the people at large are basically morons, ha ha ha, well I have to agree with that observation. We vote against our best interests all the time and we actually believe the campaign promises, over and over and over. Like the old axiom, ( not verbatim ) ..we repeat previous actions and expect a different result

artdeco's picture
artdeco 8 years 28 weeks ago
#16

Leigh , after reading your post, I was thinking about caverine and the red herring you mentioned and got this awful taste in my mouth

QStick01's picture
QStick01 8 years 28 weeks ago
#17

Right on the money, Thom. Thanks for speaking my mind.

dannahancock23's picture
dannahancock23 8 years 28 weeks ago
#18

Your observation is a worthy one, Thom. I also sypathize with those that commented on the restriction of the press. I believe it was Prof. Einstein who said, "Small minds think about people. Mediocre minds think about events. Great minds think of ideas.". This trial was a good example of the idiocy of the tabloid press. I am hopeful though. Alternative programs, such as yours, and a few others, are gaining traction. We are only in the middle of a long bend in the road. PS: Personally, I think I would be satisfied with Old Canadian law, with the proviso of one station carrying trials, in real time, for all those who are passionate for the law.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 8 years 28 weeks ago
#19

Casey who?

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 8 years 28 weeks ago
#20

When I was young, my mother told me that one of the most frightening ways to tell when you live in a fascist, "communist," Nazi, dictatorship, or other totalitarian-type government, is when you see people being told what to think about issues, and how to feel about issues. Then she said, "And the most frightening sign of the downward spiral into a horribly dangerous government, is when people hear or see or read something in the media about how so-and-so is a bad or guilty person, or how such-and-such country 'really needs' invading, and just like that people agree that it has to be true, without any need whatsoever to look at the facts."

And now, as I think back on what she told me, I see she was warning me about the "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it" people, because they are always the ones who think that Jesus wants them to go around the world murdering innocent people- excuse me, I mean slaughtering people who never did anything to us- excuse me, I mean declaring undeclared wars against countries that had nothing to do with 911- excuse me, I mean occupying sovereign nations forever if we feel like it even though if any other country invaded and occupied America for the crimes against humanity that our government and military have committed, they would be outraged beyond belief- excuse me, I mean doing the will of God, who hates everyone except for insane pretend "christians" who disobey every single one of the ten commandments while hating other people for not paying cheap lip service to those same commandments.

gerald's picture
gerald 8 years 28 weeks ago
#21

I hear that the soap operas are losing in popularity. Why worry the MSM will pick up the slack?

bbulger83's picture
bbulger83 8 years 28 weeks ago
#22

while i agree we should not convict someone before hand but i think most of the outrage is because this woman dumped the dead body of her daughter on the side of the road and then covered it up. The only people to blame is the state and lack of common sense.

on the other hand how do we pick what stories make headlines. why do we never see black childeren kidnapped. in my home town of Prattville, Al a young girl from a trailor park went missing. a year later her body was found by hunters long since decompossed. mabye if she lived in a rich neighborhood like Natalie Holloway we would habe heard more about it.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 8 years 28 weeks ago
#23

Definitely- as cadaverine is not the same as caviar and caverine. I left off mentioning the other cadaver marker, putrescine, since I was not sure it is only present in decomposing human flesh.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 8 years 28 weeks ago
#24

Ecclesiastes: There is nothing new under the sun.

Also, this is why I think so many prayers say "as it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be, world without end. Ah, men!"

gerald's picture
gerald 8 years 28 weeks ago
#25

The Obsolete American!

I am nearing my seventy-second birthday and heading toward obscurity. The conservative crazies consider me a throw away American. There are more persons like me. You need only to remember our commencing of current endless immoral and wrong wars by our nation’s power structure and you will see glaring answers to your questions and how the working class and ordinary Americans are treated in our country. You also need to observe the actions of our politicians, the rich, and the transnational corporations with their ruthless policies and practices of enslaving and impoverishing ninety percent of Americans.

http://marcvaldez.blogspot.com/2010/07/obsolete-american-people.html

gerald's picture
gerald 8 years 28 weeks ago
#26

Implanted Foreign Object!

The TSA is now targeting persons with a foreign object inside the person. I have an implanted pacemaker and their concern is about me and my comments on Thom’s blog. I have never had a gun or a rifle in my life. I abhor weapons of any kind. The CIA operatives do read Thom’s blog religiously. He has at least three million listeners. My comments do irritate Satan’s disciples who gravitate toward the killing of God’s children. My implanted pacemaker will curtail travel for me.

gerald's picture
gerald 8 years 28 weeks ago
#27

@leighmf, yes, the more things change, the more they remain the same!!!

David Abbot's picture
David Abbot 8 years 28 weeks ago
#28

Thom, I'm afraid this is one of the very few times when I disagree with you. I think we should erode our legal system with Murdoch-style sensationalized infortainment. And here is why:

The Twain Report

All The News That Mark Twain Says He Would Report If He Was Alive Today

Three days ago, conservative radio talkshow host Rush Limbaugh, who-
although everyone in West Texas loves him- had become increasingly
concerned about securty, so his wife got him an attack dog.
Appropriately, she named it Rush. Unfortunately, the first day that
Rush was "on duty," he burst through a window and attacked a mailman,
who managed to fend the dog off with bear spray. He reported the
incident to the police.

The police gave Mrs. Limbaugh a choice: have the dog taken to the
pound, where it would be put down, or, as they put it, "Do it
yourself." Mrs. Limbaugh wrote a memo to her assistant that said,
"We're going to have to kill Rush. I just can't bring myself to do it,
so you're going to have to. It's for the best, and everyone wants it
this way."

After reading the memo, the assistant shook his head, and said, "I
can't believe that Rush wants me to do that. I'm going to go ask him."

He drove ten miles to the radio station where Rush was doing his show,
and walked into the studio just as Rush was saying, "These liberal
idiots have got me so upset, I just wish someone would shoot me and
throw me out the 50th story window of my radio studio. Really and
truly I do, and you whiney liberal crybabies can quote me on that."

Witnesses heard the assistant say, "Wow, talk about a dream job," as
he shot Rush, rolled him over to the window, and enlisted the help of
bystanders to throw him out the window. On his way down to the street
level, Rush was heard calling birds welfare mothers and entitlement
junkies. He landed on fifteen people, including Pat Robertson, John
Boehner, and Mitch McConnel, squashing all of them flat.
(Interestingly, Pat Robertsone's will, which this reporter obtained by
hacking into the cell phone of Robertson's lawyer, says, and I quote,
"When it's my time to go, I want a big fat man to fall on me from 50
stories up," which would seem to confirm that Robertson was in fact a
prophet.)

Naturally, because this all occured in New York City, within five
minutes street vendors were selling "T" shirts that read, "I was
almost crushed by Rush Limbaugh."

At Rush's funeral, hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered from all
over the country. But when they found out that the funeral was for
Rush Limbaugh the talk show host rather than for Rush the dog, the
minister and Rush's family and friends all left, pursued by Rush's
bookie, his drug dealer, and his madam, who were screaming that he
owed them money.

Rupert Murdoch, who happened to be in the studio when Rush met his
demise, told Rush's assistant, "Son, I like the cut of your jib. Rush
has flaked off on the job for the last time, I'm firing him. Would you
like to have his time slot?"

Proof positive that this is, indeed, the land of opportunity.

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