Too many facets of American culture are failing the population at the same time, and we need to recognize this in order to protect and inform ourselves.
When news broke of Casey Anthonyâ€™s not-guilty verdict, the most popular question became: How could the jury not find a woman who partied within days of her daughterâ€™s murder guilty?
Media used Anthonyâ€™s behavior during the period of her daughterâ€™s disappearance as evidence she committed the murder.
Nancy Grace â€“â€“ a former prosecutor with a history of lying and omitting relevant evidence contrary to her narratives, both in court and on the air â€“â€“ made the Anthony trial a regular piece on her show.
And media personalities across the nation decried the verdict as an unheard-of-injustice. Yet, upon closer examination, the failure lies not on the jury or legal system that found Anthony only guilty of lying to police officers, but also on the prosecutors who chose to prosecute with evidence of a crime they could not definitively link to Anthony.
â€œInnocent until proven guiltyâ€ is the basis for criminal charges, and the burden belongs entirely to the prosecutor to demonstrate to a jury the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
When one looks back through the past two decades in the U.S., several examples of disturbing trial results spring forth. The O.J. Simpson murder trial serves, without question, as the most notorious example of a prosecutor dropping the ball.
The DNA evidence against Simpson was indisputable proof he committed the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.
Unfortunately, the prosecutors failed to recognize that the jury of Simpsonâ€™s peers was barely capable of stringing together a literate sentence, much less understanding the complexities of DNA. So when Marcia Clark went too in-depth in the explanation of genetic evidence, the jurorsâ€™ eyes glossed over and O.J. walked.
The media exists to provide unbiased information to viewers and to hold government accountable, yet they barely succeed at the former and are galactic failures of the latter.
While two corrupt parties of politicians commit their energy to electioneering every issue and politicizing every aspect of their offices, theyâ€™re only truly taking their pledge to remain in power seriously. Also, they only succeed in padding the wallets of corporations of all forms by ensuring the American population becomes less educated, less healthy, less informed, less wealthy and less free.
A useless public education system and news media are taking their cues not from the founders of American journalism who questioned authority, but from corporate offices interested only in keeping the viewer riveted to whichever advertisement-riddled sensationalism they may extract a dime of profit from.
The media focus of the Anthony trial was not on the facts of the case, but rather on the sensationalized details they felt would draw viewers. When the verdict accurately reflected the efforts of the prosecutors, they acted apoplectic, turned the page and moved on to the next profit-driven news of the day.
Perhaps Associate Journalism Professor at University of Southern California Judy Muller said it best when interviewed by USA Today: â€œNobody’s going to do any soul searching when you have these ratings.â€
As we move into the 2012 election season, keep in mind the failures of virtually every entity the public education system taught you to trust.
The federal government is insolvent and the politicians only care about what they have to do for reelection, not what is best for the country.
Count on the media to report anything other than the unbiased truth. They will manipulate facts, present opinion as evidence and even in the case of a blowhard like Nancy Grace, they will ignore facts that contradict their desired narrative.
Casey Anthony walked because an incompetent prosecutor failed to connect her to the evidence of a crime. The jury defied all odds and returned the appropriate verdict for the case.
The media did not tell you as much because they were pandering to the lowest common denominator.
Educate yourselves; the institutions you depend upon are failing.
Seth J. Stern does not trust government or the media to which he belongs. His column appears as needed in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.