Bet you thought it was all over, didn’t you? Well think again, cause it’s mea ever-so-limited culpa time.
“Solved!” declared the front page of The Daily News on Aug. 17, the day after an arrest was made in the decade-old JonBenet Ramsey murder case.
But yesterday, almost sheepishly, a small headline across the bottom of the page read: “JonBenet case collapses in shambles.”
‘It was a day of delicate backtracking for the news organizations and television programs that, two weeks earlier, had breathlessly announced the news that John Mark Karr had been arrested in the death of JonBenet Ramsey. News of Mr. Karr’s arrest had landed on the front pages of newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and filled hundreds of hours on the cable talk shows that had obsessively covered the case from its beginning in 1996.”
An “obsession” proceeding from one angle only — the alleged “mystery” of who killed the little whore, when the answer was obvious.
On Monday, however, Mary T. Lacy, the Boulder County district attorney, announced that charges against Mr. Karr would be dropped after tests revealed that his DNA sample did not match the unidentified DNA found on JonBenet Ramsey. “They all are embarrassed by this, all the TV people, all the journalists,” said Barry Scheck, a director of the Innocence Project. “I sense a general embarrassment in the media because there was a complete fixation on this case.”
What’s embarrassing is a press that allowed a bought-and-paid-for D.A. to get away with the sham she bought into when the Ramsey’s presentation of the crime scene was unquestioned and the couple and their son allowed to take off for months before a proper questioning — perfectly routine in any murder investigation. But then the Ramseys are rich, powerful and (most important of all) “Christian.” So they are automatically above reproach — even while remaining beneath contempt. Just as they paraded the child in a manner that would have given Rose Hovick pause they paraded themseleves before the public in a specially staged “interview” in which they denied everything. The Ramseys were, needless to say, well aware of the face that the media would do the rest of the job — dutifully repalying images of precious little stripperalong with clips of “I didn’t kill Jon-Benet,” over and over and over again.
“When the news of Mr. Karr’s arrest broke, cable talk shows jumped in headfirst, interviewing members of the Ramsey family, relatives of Mr. Karr and fellow teachers at the school in Thailand where Mr. Karr had been briefly employed. An old yearbook signed by Mr. Karr materialized, and experts were produced to compare his handwriting with the handwriting on the supposed ransom note left in the Ramsey home in 1996.”
Thanks for the “supposed.” This literary production, credited to “A small foreign faction,” should have alerted the media to the fact that they were being played.
But then this is the same media played by everyone from O.J. Simpson to Karl Rove, so what can we expect from them after all?
For a cluster of criminal justice programs, the first order of business was to absolve the long-suspected Ramsey parents of responsibility for the crime. “This is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion,” said Jane Velez-Mitchell, a host on CNN.
You bet it is, honey! Look to The Scottish Tragedy Act III, Scene Two:
LADY MACBETH: Nought’s had, all’s spent,
Where our deisre is without content:
Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by Destruction dwell in doubtful joy
How now my Lord! why do you keep alon,
Of sorriest fancies you companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what’s done is done
“What is absolutely so sad about this is that Patsy Ramsey, the mother of little JonBenet Ramsey, died just a couple of months ago at the end of June, never having achieved full vindication, living for so many years, the better part of a decade, under a cloud of suspicion.”
How conveeeeeeeeeenient !
The cloud (or sometimes “unbrella”) was wafted away at the start by a media fixated on the spectacle of its own pedophile desires coupled with the disavowal built into the notion that such desires could possibly end in murder. After all can you really picture Nancy Grace beaning the brat with a blunt object then tieing her up like a Christmas package and writing a
fake ransom note?
Well, frankly, yes.
But other news organizations quickly began questioning Mr. Karr’s claims that he “was with JonBenet when she died.” By Aug. 17, the day after Mr. Karr’s arrest, some news outlets were interested in debating the psychology of phony confessions. In Slate, a headline wondered, “Why make a false confession?”
Cause it only takes 15 minutes.
John M. Geddes, a managing editor of The New York Times, said he believed the arrest was played appropriately. “We had all the doubts and concerns that were arising within the first 24 hours reflected in the paper the next day,” Mr. Geddes said.
A world’s record. No “doubts and concerns” over those WMD’s that Saddam reportedly had in Iraq, was there Mr. Geddes? No “doubts and concerns” that the claims of Paula Jones had anything to do with Mr. Clinton’s fully consentual dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. Nah, it’s just “the news.” it’s just product. No need to concern one’s empty little head with “truth.”
Leonard Downie Jr., the executive editor of The Washington Post, said he was immediately suspicious of Mr. Karr’s behavior after watching the video from Thailand. “As a journalist, I had questions right from the beginning about whether he was the right guy,” he said.
Oh that Len! Nothing gets past him.
Looking back, Mr. Downie said he is satisfied with the paper’s coverage. “If you read our stories, you’ll see a lot of skepticism from the beginning,” he said. “It’s all throughout our stories. I don’t think you could read our stories without feeling that there was at least a 50-50 chance that it was the wrong guy.”
Really? How about 90-10 ? It’s not like you didn’t have any background information on this case to know that the freak’s claim he picked the little whore up from school made no sense in that it was Christmas vacation, or that his family (including his ex-wife) knew of his whereabouts that day.
Not everyone was willing to declare Mr. Karr innocent of the crime. The front page of The New York Post yesterday pictured a stony-faced Mr. Karr beside the headline, “Off the hook: DNA clears ‘killer’ Karr.”
Nancy Grace, a CNN talk show host, continued to call Mr. Karr a confessed killer on her show Monday night, after the news that charges against him had been dropped. “Bombshell, John Mark Karr, the confessed killer of JonBenet Ramsey, has walked,” she said. “It was all for naught.”
Better luck next pedo, Nance!
“Media ethicists, citing journalistic missteps in the accusations against Richard A. Jewell over the bombing at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, immediately questioned the renewed attention that news organizations placed on Mr. Karr.”
And isn’t it interesting that the REAL Olympic park bomber, never got half the attention Jewell did.
Maybe it’s because Jewell looked so fat and unhappy while Rudolph was handsome, boyish — almost preppy.
Jewell “fit the profile,” as Kathy Najimy says in Say Uncle
And so does Karr.
Bob Steele, who teaches ethics at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, said there was a rush to judgment over Mr. Karr’s involvement. “There were headlines on cable news shows that directly said or implied that the case was solved,” Mr. Steele said. “That was journalistically problematic, and it was ethically suspect to do that. The pieces of the puzzle were incomplete when the Karr story broke.”
And they could have been fit together had reporters shown any interest in the fact that the professor the creep ahd contacted was working for the D.A. and the Ramsey’s, fishing for a patsy to take the fall for Patsy.
“There were a lot of unnamed sources flying around in that first week, and that’s really dangerous,” he added. “There were some sources saying, ‘This is the guy, we have him nailed.’ ”
Time to name those”sources” doncha think?
Mr. Scheck of the Innocence Project appeared on ABC’s “Nightline” Monday night to discuss the Ramsey case and immediately laced into the anchor, Terry Moran, over excessive media attention to the Karr arrest.
“Maybe if we didn’t pay so much attention to it and blow this story out of proportion and paid attention to the important things, maybe everybody wouldn’t feel so weird about it today,” Mr. Scheck said.
“Well, thank you,” Mr. Moran said uncomfortably. “Thank you for that advice, Barry.”
Thanks a bunch — sucker!