Final Thoughts On Roy Moore
By Alex Saitta
December 22, 2017
Most in the media looked at the Doug Jones victory over Roy Moore in the Alabama US Senate race as a political win for the Democrats, and just another battle in the political war between the two parties in our country. I think it was much more than that because it provided yet another clear sign the US has ratcheted down another notch in its long-term decline.
I have no idea if Moore committed these acts or not. I am not saying he did. I'm not saying he didn't. My issue is with the process of how we are now assessing the truth of such charges, how that process has degraded over time and the role the press has played in it. And this is yet another sign how the foundations or principles our country sits on are crumbling bit by bit.
Fundamentals Of Justice:
Our justice system is based on fundamental principles: Innocent until proven guilty, the burden of proof is on the accuser, beyond a reasonable doubt, and due process where the accuser must bring forth their allegations, the defendant can tell his side of the story, and both sides are cross-examined in front of an unbiased judge or ruling body.
The press is given First Amendment protection, the only industry in the country. In return for that protection, the press is the agent of the people and it has the obligation to operate responsibly with these principles in hand so in cases like this accused (especially when charged by the government) will be treated fairly. In sum, I think the principle is a free AND responsible press.
The press fulfilled their obligation for the most part, providing a valuable service in the public square up until the cable TV era. Supporting this was a public with a strong foundation in civics that fell back to a point of view that was based on these principles as well.
Press Has Dropped The Ball:
The press has abrogated its responsibility. The press is no longer advocating or echoing these principles. As a result, the court of public opinion is looking more like the Salem Witch Trials. The accusers only have to make their charges (sometimes anonymously), defendants start off guilty and must prove their innocence, and it is all egged on and led by the biased judge — the main stream media — that publishes and then continues to recycle the allegations in the media. All with the goal in mind the defendant is fired, resigns or loses the election.
The press has gone from the referee and the arbiter of fairness in the public square to prosecutor and judge in these public witch trials.
Just to show how it has changed. Fifty years ago the press would not have even reported the allegations against Roy Moore because they lacked corroboration. They lacked evidence — no recordings, no pictures, no witnesses, no specific dates, no dress. It is a she-said/ he-said that would have never made it to print. The press realized they were the keepers of these principles, weaved their stories with fair presentation (fact based and substantiated), innocence until proven guilty, and the right to due process before judgement.
Private vs. Public:
Realize there is another thing that is being muddied by the press and conversation on social media. A private employer has the right to hire and fire you for the most part at will and without due process. Surely in South Carolina which is an at-will state. With NBC and Matt Lauer, the rights were on the side of the company to fire him because it felt Lauer no longer appeared to represent their values. When the government is the employer and it is a government employee or elected official, the rights are on the side of the accused — the employee or elected official. The principles of justice must be adhered to.
While we should always have these principles in mind, public or private, criminal or civil, my primary issue is with the public trial and conviction (devoid of these principles) that took place with Al Franken, Roy Moore, John Conyers and this state Senator from Kentucky, Dan Johnson. I'm not saying they didn't do what they were accused of, but they deserved due process and didn't get it.