What will it take for media to show integrity in reporting about sexual crime?

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By Sandy . . . We are used to law enforcement, district attorneys, legislators, and even judges making statements that amount to lies. In an opinion he wrote, a Colorado justice said, “Study after study has shown that sex offenders have one of the highest likelihoods of reoffending once they are released from custody.” There is no “study after study” that shows this; every credible study done shows the exact opposite.

Using the same false narrative, Orange County, CA, District Attorney Todd Spitzer, angry over the release of inmates due to the Covid-19 pandemic, criticized the release of those with prior sexual convictions, saying, “We do not want these people out on the streets because we all know registered sex offenders have the highest propensity to commit additional offenses.” Compounding either his inability to know the truth or his willingness to deliberately obfuscate  it, Spitzer additionally said, “I’m here to tell you: sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated . . .”

Those entities all exist to mete out justice, or what is perceived as justice, to those who are charged with having broken a law. Granted, we should be able to expect only the truth from them, but at least, in falsifying or exaggerating what they say, they are acting in favor of a bias that everyone understands they hold.

Not so the media. Honest public media holds no bias in reporting the news. They give the facts and let the facts tell the story. Anything beyond that is editorializing, not news reporting, and a survey of today’s media is very hard pressed to find any reports on the subject of persons accused of committing sexual crime that are free of bias.

In California, the struggle to pass SB145, which was from first word to last an anti-discrimination bill, was portrayed by media outlets as a bill that would open the floodgates to allowing adults to engage in sexual activity with minors with total impunity. “Governor Newsom Signs Bill Giving Sex Predators Easier Access to Young Teens” was one header while another claimed, “California Democrats introduce bill to protect pedophiles who lure and sexually abuse innocent children.”

Even NPR – National Public Radio – is not exempt from using this despicable practice. For a piece they did about those on the registry who had “gone off the grid,” they conducted interviews with two esteemed researchers, Kelly Socia and Alissa Ackerman, who each spoke at great length about why the registry is a failure. NPR used a total of four short sentences from Socia and two from Ackerman, sentences that, within the context of the article, appear to lend support to NPR’s stance that the reason the registry doesn’t work is that too many who are registered are out of compliance. Both researchers lodged complaints with NPR.

Jeremy Rose is a registrant who lives with his family in Utah, until early August, 2021, in the small town of Tremonton. Mr. Rose is a skilled craftsman who has over the years, going back to before his conviction, done volunteer work for the school in the way of building sets and props for the drama department and the color guard. He and his wife of twenty-one years, Julie, have four children ranging in age from eight to twenty, and the Roses are very involved parents.

After his conviction, while on probation, Jeremy was able to continue this with a safety plan. Almost all of the work was done in his shop, and for the rare times when he had to be or work on school property, he always had one or more supervising adults with him and went late in the evening when students were not present. There has been no accusation or even hint of impropriety from any student or parent regarding his behavior.

Nevertheless, an issue was raised by a disgruntled parent in early 2021. Three of Jeremy and Julie’s four children were in a school play; their seventeen-year-old daughter was the lead. Part of the set, a “tree” that she had to climb, had to be constructed on the stage, requiring him to be in the school. Even though no longer on probation, Jeremy still followed his original safety plan, but the disgruntled parent still made it an issue in the community.

Enter KSTU-FOX 13 in Salt Lake City. A reporter from there approached Jeremy and offered him the opportunity to tell his side of the issue, to “set the record straight.” After much discussion, Jeremy and Julie and their children decided he should do it.

The interview lasted a little over two hours. The Roses felt that it went well and were pleased.

Reality flattened them when the piece aired. Eight minutes in total, Jeremy is seen on screen and shown talking possibly a total of a minute. His two-hour interview was edited into fragments and sound-bites that show him in an extremely negative light.

Community reaction was divided; many rallied around the Roses with love and support; others did not. The effect on the Rose children was devastating. The harassment the family received caused the children to suffer unbearable anxiety. In early August they moved, and the children are due to start a new school.

And now KSTU-FOX 13 has done a “follow-up” story, which primarily consists of castigating local law enforcement for not bringing charges against Jeremy. They used some of the same negative sound-bites from their original hit piece.

And what of the Rose children? On top of the stress and anxiety of starting a new school, they are faced with this type of publicity and the fear of wondering if the harassment will start here, in their new home, in their new school.

The sex offender registry and all it has spawned are intended to protect children. There is no evidence it has ever protected anyone, but it has made victims of many, the Rose children among them.

But Fox News in Salt Lake City, Utah, has the ratings spike they desired, and media lives or dies by their ratings, and ratings are driven by sensationalism. Is there a solution? Not while our media is subject to its current financial structure, which is dependent on – you guessed it – ratings, which depend on sensationalism, which often depends on throwing people, including children, to the wolves.

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25 Thoughts to “What will it take for media to show integrity in reporting about sexual crime?”

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  1. TS

    Great lesson in why you always record the interview as well while others are recording to set the record truly straight when things like this happen. Placing it in the public square how ever one can will certainly embarrass the reporter or author as well as their company. This is why an elected/appointed/military official always has a handler near by and a second recording going on.

    1. Bill

      Great idea. But who’s story comes out first?
      They are going to produce a professional looking product with two minute sound bites. Is anyone going to watch your youtube hour?
      They don’t want the truth. They are not looking for the truth. Just like the courts they have an agenda. They have already made the decision then supply the “reasons” for that decision. Out come based.
      No, it’s better to not give them an interview.

  2. Aj

    Very good article. One thing though, the family moved. That is exactly what the disgruntled, misinformed people want.
    I have dealt with my offense for almost 40 yrs now. At first, when i came home from prison in 1993, (after 12 yrs) i had no problems with neighbors, job restrictions, travel, even getting a residence to live. I felt i had to prove that i was reformed, changed person, someone who could still be a productive member in society.
    Eventually, when people get tired,frustrated and totally fed up band together as one cohesive element and fight this registry, in such a way as to open eyes, then and only then will it end.

  3. Perry P

    I’m not a bit surprised by this piece about Fox News. The entire Organization is after all, racist in approach with regard to News Reporting…or should I say: ‘Lie Reporting’! When is Enough, going to be Enough?

    1. Sandy

      Perry, there is nothing at all in what I wrote that implies racism on the part of Fox News or anyone there. Nothing in this entire piece hints at racism. Where are you getting that?

    2. Maestro

      I suppose you think CNN is not racist and doesn’t tell a multitude of lies? Not like they haven’t been secretly video recorded admitting it. But ok.

      1. Sandy

        They are shown to be deceitful, dishonest, and unethical; that is why I used the situation showing them to be that in what I wrote. I have no idea if they are racist. I have no evidence either way. If you have seen videos that support that they are, then you have information that I do not. The point is that what I wrote has nothing to do with race or racism, and I do not know why it is continuing to be made an issue here.

  4. Joe

    I’m assuming Fox had him sign a waiver to have his interview on camera. I’d just say moving forward if someone asks for an interview are there any guarantees they should ask for in terms of editing? Like the right to review the footage before it airs?

    As for spitzers’ comments, is there no slander/libel/fraud action that can be taken?

  5. CJ

    Best practice is just to politely decline interviews, period. You know, no matter what they tell you going in, what they’re really going to do.

  6. CherokeeJack

    When you try and sue these bastards for lying and defamation, they claim impunity under the “Freedom of the press”.
    How many lives have been ruined in the name of freedom of the press? I know of at least one person who committed suicide because of a false story than ran on the news. After his death it was found he was not guilty of what the news accused him of. The news never apologized nor were held accountable.

    1. WC_TN

      Remember how the news media wrongfully identified the shooter’s brother Adam Lanza as the shooter? All the media cared about was being the first one with the scoop on the shooter’s identity. Was there ever any accountability. Can any of us really imagine what that misidentification did to this man’s life? Was there ever even a formal, sincere public apology? I never heard it if there was.

      1. WC_TN

        I was referring to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in this comment. Sorry I forgot to mention that.

    2. Maestro

      “Freedom of the press” used to mean that the press would be allowed to a enter a crime scene and do a story on what happened. Or be admitted in to certain events without the need to pay admission. Freedom of the press SHOULD NOT MEAN that they get to spin a story in a direction that goes with an agenda. Just tell the story and allow viewers/readers to make their own conclusions. ALL media these days are literally demanding you go with what they say. Period.

  7. Larry

    You have to remember that these are no longer the news organizations that our parents and grandparents and old guys like me grew up with. The old regime had integrity and did actual fact checking and investing to assure the accuracy of the information they were publishing.
    Now days it is an entertainment industry which thrives on sensationalism and shock tactics to raise their ratings.
    They are not interested in the truth or do they care about the negative impact these false reports bring upon the subjects.
    It’s about ratings and money.
    Everyday you can read as many conflicting reports as there are agencies covering a particular story.
    Unfortunately, cops, judges, politicians,
    prosecutors, juries, and those ignorant of the actual truth believe these inaccuracies and repeat them as gospel when in fact they are not.
    And once people form a believe in such matters, exposure of the truth has very little impact on those opinions.
    I have said for years now that the way we’re going to be able to affect change we have to effect public opinion and get the public to bring pressure to bear.
    Hope you can do it Sandy. My prayers and support are with you.

  8. mut

    a lot may result from what was referred to in a book about education standards that came out years ago entitled: The Dumbing Down of America.

  9. Mike

    Hello you want to know what it take well how about this: we (many as possible) create a list from the president all the way down to our city mayors including judges & attorneys. Everyone on this team which we create and we all have this same list. The list is to send recidivism studies and every report & study and every two weeks everyone one the team send what they have to everyone on the list (President, judges mayors, ect) and we keep doing this, as the listto send info to, the team grows. We keep this going until the registry is dismantled. Just imagine 917,771 offenders sending all the studies on recidivism and proof that retro is illeagal, come on the judges know you cant punish years later just because years they made a law, if law is allow to be retroactive then about 95% of u.s. citizen needs to be arrested & you cant enact a law because someone thinks its a good idea especially when there’s no evidence for the need & no cases showing the need but yet they enact the law anyways. If as many of us form and join the team to send all the studies that we all have to the list of people that can make something happen. Can you imagine if all of the 917,771 registered citizens send every study and facts to all on the list every two weeks. I think if we all band together and do this, they will have no choice but to tear down the registy.

  10. Joseph Frances Nusbaum

    This story has no percentage of offenders repeatedly offending. Offenders are mostly arrested by a violation in parole rules, neighborhood complaints, or Megan’s time span to report changes. There needs to be a story about is anyone a pedophile around them. Truth is they would never know. Who they trust can be the biggest mistake. Kid’s are so scared to tell. Adults don’t want to get involved due to the enormous issues they have to encounter. Nobody loves the freedom in this country because a quite damage is better than having to face the damage society will put them through.

  11. WC_TN

    The media is NOT interested in the truth whatsoever. All the media cares about is driving ratings and viewership. They know they can most successfully accomplish that goal in this day and age with stories that feed on hate, fear, and moral outrage. The truth is no longer even almost a priority. We don’t have an honest media any more. We have a vicious, vindictive propaganda machine.

    The follow-up this news station intends to run is nothing more than a deliberate move to ensure Mr. Rose is met with hate, threats of violence, and being ostracized once again in his new community. There needs to be limits on freedom of the press. Telling unbiased truth is one thing. Intentionally assassinating a character and putting a bull’s eye on someone’s back is another and should have NO constitutional protections whatsoever.

  12. Ed C

    As usual Sandy, a great article. I’ll offer two observations.

    It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war. I believe that is also true of criminal prosecutions. Although prosecutors are sworn to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, all their incentives are to win at any cost. It is no surprise that ethics becomes merely a quaint impediment.

    The old media mantra was “if it bleeds, it leads.” That has morphed into “if it sizzles it sells.” Nothing sizzles like a good old fear-inducing sex offender story. Facts be damned.

    Veritas

  13. Tim Allen

    The media can’t be trusted any more than the taliban can be trusted. The jusicial system is all but just as bad.

  14. Tim in WI

    The Iraqi military has weapons of mass destruction.Obviously that was a lie but it convinced the people of a particular necessity. That is all that counts.

  15. Bill

    Sex sells. Always has, always will. Yes, even in our puritanical country. A sex story for the media like money in the bank. The old adage, “if it bleeds it leads” takes a back seat to sex.
    So , would you kill your golden goose?
    As for Mr. Rose, his story is why we must be ever vigilant about who we talk to, who we take into our confidence. The US media has gone over to the dark side. There is no more 4th estate. The truth is not in them. But we must try to hold them to a higher standard. Question, question, question. Call them on their lack of facts. Ask them to back up their claims.

  16. A Mistake They Made

    If telling lies is more profitable then telling the truth, and there are no consequences to telling lies then lies are all you will get. If news is censored then it will be censored to whatever political party owns it. The only solution is to make the truth louder then the lies, and once it is noticed were the truth is the people will go there for their news until once again the dollar, or politics corrupt the truth Sayers. This will always be a problem until it is illegal to tell lies. This might sound impossible because who decides what is the truth? A jury, a judge all these people can be swayed, but if due process was used it would work out most times. There would have to be allowance for the entertainment industry but for those organizations that have government protections as “The Press” it would be very easy to fine them for everything they get wrong. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to trust what you heard again just like the good old days when the shame of being caught in a lie was enough not to. Of course this is back when people still believed in an after life and consequences after death. No wounder they want to kill religion so bad these self appointed saviors of the world that have giant pie in the sky policies that fall on there face every time.

  17. Jim

    Integrity and the Media? Now that’s a good one! LMAO!!! Does oil and water mix? No it dosent, The Integrity in the Media was dropped Decades Ago. Look at history. The media gets and boosts ratings now with fear, not integrity, not facts. Integrity is the furthest thing in their simple minds. I truly believe there is a very slim chance Integrity will ever be a part of the media in any way until the media can be held responsible for its false facts and false reporting.

  18. Rosa Rodriguez

    Murders ,robbers, fraud and scams are no registered and besides that they have so many programs to reduce sentences and qualify for reduce a sentence to 65% with the first act .Cases like my son no prior felony, clean record,no rape , no soliciting no molesting, no touching, no violence no making pornography or producing just to LOOK, child pornography.He has a sentence of 18 years plus 10 years of parole and is include like sex offender. Murders they are released and not registered as a killer and they affect people in so many ways. Sex offender is a person who forces a child or other to take part in sexual activity. And if a person watches criminal movies is a killer.? Child pornography does’t have any programs or any law to reduce sentences. The law and sentencing are disproportionate and unfair for a person who just watches movies and because of that is registered like sex offender.God bless you all for looking for change the law . Justice is no Justice most of the time.