A Dead Nurse, a Defamed Defendant, Mangled Truth

By | December 10, 2012 | 0 Comments


Jacintha Saldanha, British nurse who took prank phone call about Princess Kate, then apparently killed herself because of worldwide humiliation

By now nearly everyone has heard about the two Australian “media personalities” who phoned the hospital where Princess Kate was being cared for, while pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. Unaccountably, the call was put through, and the nurse on duty was duped into giving out medical information. None of this was sensitive or embarrassing in any way. But the unfortunate nurse, who was of Indian ethnicity and had a husband and two teenage children, was later found dead, apparently by suicide.
It was announced that the two pranksters had been “suspended.” Regrettably, this word was used figuratively, not literally.
Humiliation is painful. Public humiliation is more painful. Being humiliated before the whole world must be unbelievably painful. Perhaps the nurse may have had psychological problems, but even if this were true, so what? We do not walk around with signs around our necks, warranting that we are in perfect physical and emotional health.
If I knock down a woman to steal her purse, but she breaks her hip and dies, I am guilty of manslaughter regardless of whether she had osteoporosis. If I subject a person to worldwide ridicule, I am responsible for her suicide – morally and perhaps legally – regardless of whether she had pre-existing problems. Who doesn’t?
On the other hand, the nurse may have been dedicated care-giver whose sensitivity was an asset when dealing with patients, but a liability when dealing with thoughtless jerks. But in any case, those who cause intentional injury must bear the consequences.


George Zimmerman sues NBC for editing tape to make him seem to be racist, while, nine months after the shooting, police release color photo showing broken, bloody nose.

Then we come to George Zimmerman, the man who shot Trayvon Martin in February. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, based on the following: (1) Zimmerman had a broken nose, while Martin reportedly had bruised knuckles. (2) Zimmerman had a gash on the back of his head, supporting his claim that Martin was bashing his head onto the concrete sidewalk. (3) Zimmerman had wet grass stains on the back of his jacket, supporting his claim that Martin knocked him to the ground. (4) Zimmerman repeatedly called 911 before the shooting. Most murderers do not call the police before the crime.
But assume that Zimmerman is a homicidal racist who prowls around, looking for blacks to kill. Then our duty is to put him in prison for as long as possible. So our first priority is to see that he is convicted. But how can we find 12 impartial jurors? NBC edited the 911 tape to make it seem that Zimmerman thought Martin looked suspicious because Martin was black.
Look at the transcript of the actual tape of Zimmerman’s 911 call:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 Operator: Okay, and this guy, is he black, white, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Now look at the transcript of the tape NBC played on TV “news”:

Zimmernan: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

Clearly, the implication is that Zimmerman is a racist who sees a man as suspicious just because he’s black. But in fact, Zimmerman mentioned the person’s race only after the 911 operator asked about it.
Even worse, the media repeatedly published undated photos of Martin appearing as a young boy, when in fact he was 17 and on his high-school football team.
Worse yet, the police released a poor quality, black-and-white photo of Zimmerman. Only now, nine months later, the police released a color photo, clearly showing Zimmerman’s swollen, broken, bleeding nose. But first impressions are hard to erase. Many people formed the impression that Zimmerman was uninjured.
Worst of all, President Obama announced that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. How could this fail to evoke sympathy for Martin and anger at Zimmerman?
As a result, finding an impartial jury will be difficult or impossible – thus making a guilty verdict less likely, and reversing it on appeal more likely. Those who wanted to see Zimmerman convicted should have shut up. Those who wanted to advance their own careers did what they did. So much for objectivity. So much for the pursuit of justice.
Regrettably, truth-in-advertising laws apply to ads carried by the media, but not to the media themselves. If I sold a food product that did not list the ingredients, the product would be taken off the market and I would be fined. But if I publish a newspaper or run a TV news organization, I am exempt from this requirement. I don’t have to tell the public where I’m coming from. I don’t have to admit my bias.
In Europe, papers openly proclaim their points of view. Le Monde, a leading French paper, is known to be center-left. The British Daily Telegraph is frankly conservative. But in America, papers and TV news cloak themselves in the mantle of impartiality. They claim to report the news objectively. They claim to confine opinion to the editorial pages. These claims are obviously false.
Remember Dan Rather’s embarrassing excursion into the world of forged documents? Remember the supposedly old, typewritten letter about George W. Bush’s National Guard service? But the letter was in Times New Roman, a proportional, kerned font – obviously from a modern computer.
Remember “forged but accurate”? That ridiculous phrase tells the whole story: The forged documents accurately reflected the bias of CBS News and Dan Rather.
Or take the Los Angeles Times. In describing the indirect route President Bush took to return to Washington from Florida on 9/11, the paper titled the story, “Bush Fled Harm’s Way With 9/11 Flights.” Later, the Times Building was evacuated because of a phony bomb threat. But the story wasn’t titled, “We Fled.”
It was “fleeing” for the president to take an indirect route to return to his office, to avoid the real threat that another hijacked airliner might crash into Air Force One. But somehow it wasn’t “fleeing” for Times personnel to leave their offices because of a phony threat. Thus we have a new meaning of the word “flee” – to move toward you duty station. This paper denies a liberal bias, but it claims the right to use a word in a way opposite from the accepted meaning. If I can’t rely on the meaning of simple words, what can I rely on?
Nobody knew what else the terrorists had planned. Vice President Cheney and other key officials went to a secret location. But the president returned to the White House, an obvious target, to show the world we weren’t cowering in fear. To call this “fleeing” was not only bad English. It revealed a liberal bias so deep that it overcame the obligations of journalism and citizenship.
If you look at the top of my home page, you see, “Conservative political and social commentary.” You may disagree with everything I say. You may call me filthy names. But you can’t accuse me of false advertising. I tell you where I stand, so you can evaluate what I say in light of my viewpoint.
I don’t object that papers and TV news have viewpoints. I don’t even object that they have biases. I object that they refuse to admit it. All I want is truth in advertising. All I want is that facts be distinguished from fabrications. Is that too much to ask?
Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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