Thursday, November 17, 2011

Comfort the Afflicted And Afflict the Comfortable. The Media and the Sandusky Case.

The quote, attributed to Peter Dunne, is one way of defining the moral task of the press. That this task has been slowly drowning in the she-said-he-said-and-some-people-say ocean of pretend-neutrality has made me very sad and angry.

Hence my pleasure in finding that at least some in the press are doing their jobs on the Sandusky child abuse allegations. Otherwise I would not have learned of the conflict-of-interest problems of Leslie Dutchcot, the judge who granted Sandusky bail:
The judge who freed Jerry Sandusky on bail that was lower than prosecutors requested -- and said he didn't require an ankle monitor -- has not only volunteered for Sandusky's Second Mile charity but also reportedly benefited from a fundraiser organized by a Second Mile official.
Now she has been replaced as the judge in the Sandusky hearings by an out-of-county judge. The reason? This:
“Due to the unique circumstances surrounding this case, it was essential that every precaution be taken to ensure all legal proceedings occur without the appearance of bias on the part of the judicial system,” said Vereb.
“With this particular case, it would have been extremely difficult to find a judge without some connection to Penn State, The Second Mile or any alleged victims. Assigning the case to an out-of-county judge takes away any hint of bias or conflict of interest.”
Probably. But that quote reminds us that the comfortable lunch with the comfortable, fund-raise with the comfortable and in general move within a tight circle consisting of other quite-comfortable-thank-you folks. And this is the reason why the press cannot live inside that same circle.

The most recent installment of the Sandusky allegations has to do with the mysterious disappearing files at Second Mile, the charity which Sandusky appears to have used for grooming boys:
According to unnamed Times' sources, investigators served subpoenas on the Second Mile to learn the names of every child who dealt with the foundation. Members of the charity's board of directors learned recently that records from 2000 to 2003 were missing.
The charity has since located the records from one of those years, the newspaper reported, but the rest remain gone.
"It could be that they are just lost, but under the circumstances it is suspicious," a law enforcement official involved in the case told the Times.

I hope those files turn up. But whether they do or not, it is important to learn that they are currently missing.

It may be worth pointing out that the way I read "comfortable" and "afflicted" in that quotation is not necessarily based on material wealth but on societal power. Those who think that laws apply to only little people, those who buy their way out of problems which would send others to prison, those are the comfortable. If the press does not afflict them, who will?