It is said that, in America, one is innocent until proven guilty. In theory, that line is correct as anyone who is brought up on charges is given the right to their day in court. It would be hard to believe that this is the case though, when one takes a look at message boards and social networking sites when a high profile case is going on. People do not watch and judge the merits of the evidence, instead opting for the quick mob mentality towards the innocence or guilt of the accused.
A lot of this presumption can be traced back to the media. If one takes a journalism or news writing class, the first lesson they teach is that those in the press have to remain impartial. That means that print and television media’s job is to present the facts of the case, and let observers judge their own conclusions. Unfortunately, that type of presentation has gone the way of the dinosaur in the 21st century, replaced by sensational headlines and so-called experts trying cases on the airwaves.
There is a certain danger to this approach by the media as it can cause a frenzy and hatred of a defendant before knowing whether they are guilty or not. There is perhaps no better example of this than was seen in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Casey Anthony was the mother of a young toddler named Caylee, who went missing and was discovered dead in a trash bag some time later. Casey Anthony was brought up on murder charges and was brought to trial.
Almost from the time the trial started, media member Nancy Grace (CNN) seemed to have Anthony tried and convicted of the crime. Each night, Grace and a panel of friends would go over that day’s proceedings in the court. Grace was very outspoken each evening, as though she was speaking for the dead child. She would review each piece of testimony and evidence, and then show how it tied into Casey Anthony being the murderer of the child. There was no impartiality involved on Grace’s show, so when the not guilty verdict was read, it left her viewers in utter horror at the outcome. Grace considered it one of the great travesties in the history of the law.
Whether one believes the verdict or not, the jury had spoken. The problem is now that Anthony has no life to speak of, having to stay in seclusion for fear of an upset viewer looking to make an example out of her. Grace was not the only one to do something like this though. Think back to the alleged Duke rape case. In this case, a hooker came forward, accusing numerous members of the Duke lacrosse team of raping her at a party. Due to the fact that she was black, media stars such as the Rev. Al Sharpton took to the airwaves, calling these players all sorts of things and using race to further his own agenda.
Problem was as the case unfolded it turned out that the victim gave false testimony and the prosecutor ended up being disbarred for inappropriate conduct. Instead of letting the case play out in court, pundits like Sharpton took the proceedings to whole other level, causing a rift between blacks and whites that still simmer today. These are but two cases, but there are many more that would have been better served by having the media not get involved on a personal level. There are those that say the media does these things all in the name of ratings. Looking at cases like these two, it would be hard to argue that fact.