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General News

Media face challenges in rush to sexual misconduct reckoning



NEW YORK (AP) — Talk-show host Tavis Smiley isn’t just upset with PBS for firing him on sexual misconduct charges. He’s upset about his depiction in the media.

Smiley believes that if he hadn’t talked publicly about romantic relationships with subordinates at his company, the behavior that led to his downfall, the public would make little distinction between him and those who have been accused of sexual assault or rape.

Conflation of different forms of misbehavior — the idea itself is controversial — is one of the issues facing media organizations covering the fast-moving story of sexual misconduct that went into overdrive with investigations into Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s behavior.

“The media is painting with too broad a brush,” Smiley said. “We have lost all sense of nuance and proportionality in how we cover these stories.”

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  1. Facts should matter

    “The media is painting with too broad a brush,”

    More like carpet-bombing fear-inducing hysteria for viewership and mouse-clicks when it comes to do with anything sex-related. America is addicted to controversy and outrage and the media knows how to peddle this to their advantage. $$

    • Dph

      I thought this Hollywood AND Congress and Political figures would makes things worse and The Public to be agressive with more falsitivity and come out more against RC’s. and RSO’s. Indirectly or directly. Watch Out.

    • Tim L

      Nothing in the press’s conflation matches the states actions under the Whetterling act. Painting with a broad brush to justify the indenture of hundreds of thousands under SORNA.

      Maybe the press merely follows our leadership.

  2. michael w

    So near the end it had this little tidbit,
    “The story has already led to some unorthodox decisions. assigned a woman who alleged harassment by Thrush, who said the incident still made her angry, to report and write on accusations by her and others” .

    Years ago I had lost my license for no insurance and got a ticket for driving on a suspended license in the O.C. , the courtroom I was assigned to was presided over by a judge who apparently was the victim in an accident that caused her to be paralyzed and her husband and son to die, the driver was drunk and driving with a suspended license, needless to say I, like everyone who entered her court was handed the harshest penalty allowed. She made it known that all who violated these laws that caused her misfortune and grief would pay for the misdeeds of this person who also died in the incident.

    I very strongly believed then as I do today that nobody with such a clear outspoken bias on a subject should ever be placed in a position that has wide reaching effect over peoples lives, the ability to destroy them personally and/or professionally in the blink of an eye.

    just my own humble opinion.

  3. Dustin

    So even though he made a career out of it, Smiley now has a problem with how the media covers these stories. Not that I ever followed his work all that close, but I’m willing to bet he was just as bad as those he now complains of before he became the target of that sort of reporting. The press cares about ratings and subscriptions above all else. Truth is irrelevant, and the whole story only gets reported after a more compelling story crops up somewhere else.

    Consider the Kanka’s claim that if they knew an SO was living at that house across the street, their daughter would be alive today. It was revealed that they – in fact, nearly the whole neighborhood – knew there was an SO there, albeit not the one that killed their daughter. But it’s pretty unlikely they told her, “Stay away from that house, but those two guys that just moved in there should be okay.” Would Megan’s Law have passed if that annoying little fact was given? Probably. But at least it would force lawmakers to back up the claim with facts rather than mere assertions. The empty claim that notification of SOs makes people safer has yet be proven in any tangible way, even 20 years later.

    Given the climate of accusation=guilt regarding sex offense cases, it would seem that those accused, including Smiley, should have to register. Maybe then, Smiley and other reporters of his ilk will take a more serious look at the registry and its effects. The unfortunate part of that is he won’t have much of an audience to read about the lunacy he would be reporting about.

    • RC

      It’s not so clear that Smiley is guilty of what he’s accused of. Smiley seemed to respect women and sympathize with their stories of abuse and discrimination.

      • Dustin

        Guilt is assumed simply because he was accused. That’s proof enough. That he was sympathetic and respectful in some cases is irrelevant. According to the victim industry, an SOs every thought, word, and deed is centered on re-offending and would probably consider any showing of sympathy and respect to be grooming. Ridiculous, I know, but that’s their mindset.

        I sympathize with Smiley’s plight – all SOs and those accused of being one (pretty much one and the same) are in the same boat. But it is hard not to sneer at Smiley himself, being for so long a part of the media culture that had a very big hand in creating the guilt-by-accusation-alone climate and only opposes it now that he has been accused.

        I would like to see all of those in the media – Smiley included – that were merely accused of sexual misconduct fight their accusers, succeed, and regain their former forums. Theoretically they would see how ridiculous and unfair it is to smear someone an SO without evidence beyond an accusation and report accordingly. Sadly, most will simply cower and/or indenture themselves to the victim advocates, hoping return to their former “prominence.”

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