Search This Blog

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jameis Winston, DNA, rape, and the media

So one of the lead stories in the news the past couple weeks has been about a football player and his "association with" an alleged sexual assault in Tallahassee, Florida roughly a year ago.

If you've followed the story, you know that Florida State QB (and Heisman trophy favorite) Jameis Winston was "linked to" an alleged rape. At first no one knew what this meant.

Frankly, the media coverage reminded me of all those stories I heard in the news for years about people allegedly "associated with" or "linked to" al-Qaeda. You know, we apprehended this guy or killed that guy who was "associated with" or "linked to" al-Qaeda. Almost never did we learn what that association or link meant.

In the case of Winston, it could have simply meant he was a witness to the alleged sexual assault. That would associate him with or link him to it. The media jumped the gun--SURPRISE!--implying and at some times asserting that he was a suspect. They used words like "allegation" and "presumption of innocence" to suggest he might be charged or that he already had been charged. All of this occurred before there was literally any evidence he was a suspect.

Now that DNA test results show that his DNA matches that found in the accusers underwear (!!!), these kind of media reports seem justified in retrospect, but it does not change the fact that they were premature and unjustified, even irresponsible.

Now the media are reporting that the victim may have been coerced or warned by the police not to pursue the case. But that story could also just be a misunderstanding of what the cops actually told her. 

Read the statement of what the police allegedly said. 

Assuming it is even true (who knows, right, it's been almost a year!) were they encouraging her NOT to pursue it or were they telling her what would likely happen if she did? In other words, was it a warning NOT to pursue it or was it just an honest assessment of what she could expect?

The mainstream news seem to assume the former but perhaps--just perhaps--the latter is true and this is yet another rush to judgment by news organizations? (as a media scholar that would not surprise me). 

Who knows. 

Hopefully we will find out. 

I want to conclude by saying this: If Jameis Winston did this or had anything to do with it, I hope he gets what he deserves (and if he is charged with a felony, he is, by team policy, immediately suspended).

And if he did not do this or have anything to do with it (this is possible given the description of the suspect which does not match him at all), I hope the media get raked over the coals for their coverage of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment