Shouting Sound Bites From the Roof: The Lasting Effects of Media Bias on Victims of Crime
It’s hard to imagine being accused of an unspeakable crime. It is even harder to imagine being accused when there is little to no evidence to show any involvement on your part, yet due to a continual media barrage of misstatements, inaccurate and skewed facts, and outright fictional stories, you find yourself living the life of a guilty person, fighting to clear your name.
Too often, the free press guaranteed by the Constitution is responsible for inaccurate reporting that ruins the lives of the innocent. Whether this occurs as a result of police misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct, or the direct actions of the news media in choosing to present the public with only the most shocking facts with little regard towards the legitimacy or effect of their misleading representation doesn’t matter. The effect is the same; an innocent person is found fighting to get the truth released while their reputation is dragged through the mud in an effort to solve a crime.
When three members of the lacrosse team at Duke University were charged with raping an African American exotic dancer, their arrests made national news. The community was outraged that a poor black woman had been raped, in an attack that was racially motivated, by upper class white students. The students were ostracized on campus, the lacrosse season was cancelled, and their coach, one of their few supporters, was fired. They were followed by gangs banging pots with spoons and demanding their cooperation with authorities and an end to the perceived “wall of silence.” There were numerous facts that would exonerate the members of the lacrosse team, or at least show that the accuser was not an innocent victim, that were hidden by the media: that the exotic dancer was really a prostitute, that the team had been fully cooperative with the Durham Police Department, and that all members of the lacrosse team...