Friday, August 18, 2006

It's Now the Crazy Season for Mainstream News Media

The Media is So Desperate to Not Cover Matters Relevant to Citizens, Like the Truth of Bush-Cheney Failures, the Corruption of the GOP and the Election Issues Facing American Voters . . . .

. . . that on-air personalities like Chris Jansing at MSNBC (and I thought nobody was fluffier, i.e. stupider, in the television news business than Kyra Phillips on CNN) is interviewing Vicki Warren, a psychic, about an old sketch that had been drawn from another psychic's (Dorothy Allison, who has since, herself, died) description of "the real killer" of JonBenet Ramsey.

Jansing, who said that she thinks that the sketch looks "exactly like," but for the "excepts" ("except for the hair," "...the mouth," etc.) a photograph of John Karr, just about asked this latest psychic, Vicki Warren, to channel the dead psychic, Dorothy Allison.

Vicki Warren responded that she "doesn't know what to make of the sketch," but that at the time of the murder, she (Vicki Warren) was seeing "red," so "if Karr was wearing a red shirt it could be him."

Speaking of remarkable resemblances, how could Chris Jansing fail to notice resemblances that two other subjects of stories she read on the air today bore to others?

Jansing interviewed this man, Harry Knowles, of, about the opening of the latest Samuel L. Jackson movie, "Snakes on a Plane" . . . .

. . . . and she failed to remark of his uncanny resemblance to this man:

Eric Stoltz as Rocky Dennis in the 1985 movie, "Mask."

And when she read this on air . . .

Some See the `Virgin Mary' in Chocolate Blob Drop Under Vat at Chocolate Factory . . . .

Bodega Chocolates' employee Cruz Jacinto holds the piece of chocolate dripping next to her `Virgin Mary' prayer card.

. . . how could Jansing not recognize . . .

. . . . The Maltese Falcon?

Following Chris Jansing's interview with the second, unrelated to anyone or anything psychic, she interviewed Victor Malarek. Malarek is a self-professed expert on the sex-trade tourist business in Thailand. Malarek was brought on camera to imply that John Karr was in Bangkok for the sex.

Ever since John Karr ran out on warrants issued in California in 2001, he's been bouncing around the world, from Germany to Honduras. Is Karr's behavior and affect strange? Yes, but he hasn't been tried for, much less convicted of, anything.

Is this really how we want to conduct our criminal justice system and our news coverage of criminal acts? By rumor and innuendo, in media interviews with so-called experts who have dubious credentials themselves, coloring public opinion when they have no first-hand connection to the case at hand?

Have we really sunk this low?

I guess we have, as have the Thai police, who are now changing their stories because their original statements have been disproven:
A Thai official is backing off statements he quoted which raised serious questions about whether suspect John Karr was involved in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

The Thai immigration police official is changing part of his account about what Karr told interrogators specifically about details that set off a few red flags.

For one thing, the police official quoted Karr as saying that he had given the 6-year-old girl drugs, but the autopsy after the 1996 murder revealed no drugs in her system.

But today the Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul backed off that, saying Karr told him, "It may have been drugs," and that everything was a "blur."

Also, the police official now says Karr never told him that he picked up JonBenet at school. He said he got that from a documentary he had seen.

Excuse me? A Thai police official has seen a documentary about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, where John Karr claims to have picked up JonBenet at school? This story made it into the Thai news in 1996 and Thai culture?
Karr remains in a Thai jail ready to leave for the U.S. at any time to face accusations in the slaying.

Unlike yesterday, when he answered questions from reporters and stunned them by declaring he killed the girl accidentally, a sign is posted at the jail today tells reporters Karr is not allowed visitors.

Karr did get a visit today from a U.S. consular official, who had no comment on the Ramsey case.

A Thai police official said Karr is ready to return to the U.S. but now wants to fight the case. He said U.S. officials are preparing documents and plane tickets.

The district attorney in Boulder, Colo., said Karr was arrested a day after he began teaching second grade in Bangkok. Karr had been fired from a job teaching first-graders at another Thai school in June because officials said he didn't seem to work well with young children.

Another American teacher who works at the school said he found Karr to be an "odd ball."

I think there's another story here, flying under the radar, just beneath the surface: Who are all of these anglos flanking John Karr, who is supposed to be in the custody of the Thai police, but it's U.S. government types who seem to be controlling both Karr and the show?

And on an even lighter note (as if this blog entry could get any less weighty), who decided to include John Mark Karr's middle name when reporting this story? Didn't we all learn from the Mel Gibson/Julia Roberts' movie "Conspiracy Theory" that using three names is reserved for lone gunmen assassins (Mark David Chapman, Lee Harvey Oswald)? Has JonBenet Ramsey's death now been elevated to an assassination?

How this story came to light, at this particular time, when I'm told that the District Attorney wasn't ready to file charges (shades of Tony Blair in last week's British terrorist plot expose'), and who exactly is Michael Tracey, would be good places for investigative journalists to begin:
Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy thanked 13 law enforcement agencies for help in arresting John Mark Karr in the murder of JonBenét Ramsey.

Lacy never mentioned Michael Tracey. He's a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, not a cop. But Tracey, a longtime critic of JonBenét media coverage, hooked up with Karr via e-mail and got information that many believe led to Karr's arrest in Bangkok on Wednesday.

"There was one particular thing that made me decide (to go to authorities)," Tracey said Thursday before Lacy met the press. "I'm not going to say what."

One fact in one e-mail among years and hundreds of pieces of correspondence.

So goes the cat-and-mouse game that has been played since someone killed and may have sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl in her Boulder home in 1996.

There are holes in Karr's supposed confession and questions about whether he's truly been arrested or is just being deported. Still, the media circus did not take long to reassemble across from the Boulder justice center. Dozens of journalists gathered to hear Lacy say she couldn't say anything.

Tracey wouldn't talk much either.

I told him it looked as if Karr would not have been arrested without him.

"Apparently," he said. "I was kind of pleased when I heard he'd been arrested." Then, the professor quickly added, "I don't know if he's guilty or not."

At this point, the case against Karr doesn't look any better than the case against JonBenét's parents. John and Patsy Ramsey lived under the infamous "umbrella of suspicion" for a decade. A grand jury refused to indict.

Patsy died in June. Her husband now waits to see if he is finally vindicated.

It is no sure thing. Lacy twice mentioned "exigent circumstances." "There are circumstances that may exist in any case which mandate an arrest before an investigation is complete," Lacy said. "The primary reason is public safety. A secondary reason is fear of flight."

Lacy stated that she was "not commenting on the particular nature of this investigation or arrest." It was left to the collective imagination to decide if the arrest related to something Lacy had said moments earlier: Karr, who has kiddie porn convictions, started teaching second grade Tuesday at a school in Bangkok.

Karr gave an impromptu press conference during a perp walk in Thailand. For a potential capital criminal, he sounded awfully eager to confess. In Tracey's own words, Karr may be "a wing nut." Karr admitted accidentally killing JonBenét. Thai cops say he also said he drugged her and had sex with her. The public evidence doesn't show intercourse or drugs.

Tracey said he doesn't know of Karr's being in Colorado. Karr's ex-wife told a TV station Karr was in Alabama when the murder occurred. Lacy said nothing.

The slam dunk in this case will be matching Karr's DNA to DNA found at the murder scene.

Until that happens, the JonBenét media circus will once again operate three rings, 24/7. It will feed off itself when it has to. Wednesday afternoon's drive-time radio featured talk-show hosts defending themselves for attacks on John and Patsy Ramsey. Thursday, it was Tracey's turn to be the king of all media.

"I did what I thought was responsible," he said to a sea of microphones.

"If you look at the way leaks were used (and) lies were used to frame the Ramseys, I lost a lot of faith in how law enforcement functions," continued Tracey, who made a documentary film about JonBenét a few years back. "Some of that (faith) has been restored by (Boulder police Detective) Tom Bennett and the people working with Tom and Mary Lacy."

Still, although Tracey said that he long ago made a "judgment" that "all John and Patsy Ramsey did to their daughter was love her," Lacy refused to publicly say whether Karr's arrest has taken John Ramsey off the list of suspects.

"John Ramsey is presumed innocent; John Mark Karr is presumed innocent," Lacy said. "I cannot comment past that."

So the mystery of who killed JonBenét endures.

Maybe not the same as it ever was, but close enough to remain what it's always been: more questions than answers.

Amen to that.

1 comment:

Archie Levine said...

I think a dubious confession in a murder case from 1997 ought to merit less news time than this week's ruling that the President of the United States exceeded Constitutional authority, acted criminally, and may merit jail time. You'd think that the first president in history to admit openly to having committed an impeachable offense would be an important story.

It would have been in America...I really miss that country.