Monday, June 13, 2005

Not to worry, the man who killed Christa Worthington...

... is probably in custody. Probably.

Ever wonder what it must have been like to read Pravda, the news organ of the Communist Party in The Country Formerly Known As The Soviet Union?

Look no further than the bizarre coverage of the Christa Worthington murder case in the Cape Cod Times for the best example you're likely to find.

Two other newspapers - The Cape Codder weekly and the Boston Herald - have run stories about the possibility of a second man at the scene of Worthington's murder, based on a claim by c
hief suspect Christopher McCowen and DNA evidence.

I've lost count of how many stories about the Worthington case have run in the Times since the Cape Codder broke the news May 20 about a second possible suspect, but I do know how many stories the Times has run about McCowen's new lawyer - their last two stories about the case.

Let me see if I've got this straight - the possibility that Christa Worthington's killer could still be at large, and could kill again for that matter, warrants not a single word in the Times - but McCowen's new lawyer warrants two stories? Is this guy an advertiser by chance? Safe to say that McCowen, a garbage man by trade, probably wasn't.

If it isn't in The Times, it didn't happen?

Having been beaten by The Cape Codder on a major development in the biggest murder trial on the Cape in years, the editors at the Times are single-minded in their determination that their readers will never, ever learn of this shadowy second suspect.

The editors will, however, allow allusions to this person, as in the first paragraph of Stacy Myers's story on Friday about Robert A. George, "the scrappy Boston defense lawyer now representing the only person charged in Christa Worthington's murder ..."

" ... the only person charged ..." In other words, pay no attention to those rumors you may have heard about a second suspect. Why not just use the more straightforward, "the man charged"?

I have no idea why the Times is doing this, but two theories come to mind. They got beaten on a big story, again, right on the heels of blowing off the possibility of Otis closing after it was first reported at on April 15 (the Times did not shake the sand from its eyes and run a story on this until May 7). Or the editors at the Times think McCowen is lying and they won't spread his lie by publishing it.

If any of the second possibility is involved, the powers that be at the Times need a refresher course in civil liberties and criminal justice. Christopher McCowen may well be lying, but under our system of justice, flaws and all, he is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty. And with the presumption of innocence comes obligations to the media - a defendant also has the right for his or her story to be heard.

And a precedent setting Supreme Court decision?

If this were the only example of the Times using Pravda-style groupthink to airbrush the official history, it would be one thing. But just last Monday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in a dispute between the federal government and state of Alaska over jurisdiction of coastal waters.

If you are thinking that sounds like what is happening with the wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound, you are right. Whether Cape Wind Associates ever gets the permits it needs probably hinges on whether the federal government has jurisdiction over Horseshoe Shoal.

The court ruled against Alaska, setting in place a major potential precedent for Cape Wind.

If the court had ruled in favor of state jurisdiction, can there be much doubt the Times would have run this story out front the next day?

Editor's Note: In the former Soviet Union, the two major state-owned newspapers were Pravda and Isvestia. In the Russian language Pravda means "truth", and Isvestia means "information", to wit Russians used to joke, "there is no information in Pravda and no truth in Isvestia.


At 3:41 PM, Anonymous H.L.M. said...

'Tis simple.

The Times often wrong
but never uncertain.

At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And on a lighter note than pure real estate lawyer , check out the funniest trial transcript ever! If it's not serious enough of a topic, well, just pretend it's the Brit's version of real estate lawyer !


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