Commentary

The accused vs. the accuser vs. THE MEDIA

So the Duke rape case that has been ongoing for over a year now, and the charges against the players were dropped recently. I can't help but wonder if this is partially due to media influence and they way that the victim has been portrayed from the beginning. Everyone completely ignored all of the good aspects of this woman's life and highlighted every negative aspect that they could find from her past; criminalizing her for sexual deviance that was in no way related to what happened in that house, with the lacrosse players. We saw much of the same happen with Kobe Bryant and his accuser, whose sexual history was completely exposed and used to discredit her account of what happened.

In cases like these where there is a high amount of media coverage from the beginning, I think that media professionals should be acutely aware of the role that they play - whether it be for or against the accused or the accuser. These cases are often being judged in the court of public opinion and unless the person on trial has enough money to buy their way from underneath that scrutinizing scope (like O.J. Simpson), then whatever spin media pundits decide to put on the situation ends up affecting the outcome.

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In our society, where the average American may not have the amount of media literacy that they are assumed to have, I think that pundits need to be held accountable for their editorials and slanted coverage. There are a lot of people who use media coverage as their sole source of education on one topic (or on a lot of topics), which is obviously not ideal, but it's true.

So, whether you believe that media coverage railroaded innocent athletes who were finally exonerated or that another rape victim was silenced because of her position in society, you cannot deny that that the media had an impact on this case. For this reason, I think news outlets need to be careful which bandwagon they are quick to join.

2 comments about "The accused vs. the accuser vs. THE MEDIA".
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  1. Arthur Barbato from Advertising Database, May 14, 2007 at 8:57 a.m.

    You make some thought provoking points in ths article about media coverage, violence against woman, Duke Lacrosse rape charges being dropped and the infuence of position in society. DNA played a role that can not be ignored and the latest Gov. Spitzer proposal to DNA type all arrested individuals seems to be riding on this media storm too. What do you think Britteny?

  2. Sean Mulholland, May 21, 2007 at 12:33 p.m.

    Funny you mention this because Fox News says the very same thing...about the players. They claim that they were prematurely vilified. I think it runs both ways really, with everyone accusing everyone else.

    I think the problem with pundits isn't their ability to influence. In fact, anyone holding opposing views would be *very* unlikely to change their mind after being yelled at by O'Reily or hearing a snippy Jon Stewart monologue.

    What the pundits do is verify. They confirm what we already think...we just have to find the pundit that we agree with. I think people like to feel that whatever their opinion is, there's a bulldog out there willing to champion it.

    The downside is by feeling like someone has our back, it's all to easy to stubbornly think we're right, even when we're not...

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