So does Geraldo Rivera, Dan Rather, WMCTV (the local NBC affiliate in Memphis, TN) and every other media, therapist, law enforcement and religious figure that willingly stoked up fears over Satanic Ritual Abuse despite the complete lack of evidence. FBI investigations found absolutely no evidence that Satanic ritual abuse was happening, or that, as anyone who knows a Satanist could tell you, Satanists are not organized in any fashion to facilitate such widespread abuse nor do they have any interest in it.
Oprah was taken in by the author of the Michelle Remembers, a ridiculous book that has been thoroughly debunked since its publication. It’s not the first time Oprah has been duped, (remember James Frey?) but her promotion of the hysteria helped give it legitimacy. While she is seen as the paragon of compassion today, she built those ratings on ruthless sensationalism.
Promoting James Frey may have meant her viewers bought a book they were disappointed in, but promoting the “Satanic Panic” was fearmongering of the basest sort. It had real consequences in peoples lives. Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jesse Misskelley Jr spent 18 years behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit because Oprah, Geraldo and Rather told people that if their children wore dark clothing, listened to metal music, meditated or questioned religion they were dangerous. They turned the normal process of teen rebellion and self-identity into a crime.
It’s not just Baldwin, Misskelley and Echols they need to apologize to because the families of those three little boys know the murderer of their children still walk free and no law enforcement agency is looking for them. Ever since the Lindbergh Baby law enforcement looks to the parents and stepparents first when a crime involves a child, and the DNA found at the crime scene is consistent with Terry Hobbs, the last person to see the boys alive.
The Satanic Panic made it a crime to be different. If you were 30 and wore all black with eyeliner you were a New York book critic, but if you were 16 you were demonic. The 80’s and 90’s weren’t the first time the youth of the nation were demonized (jazz and booze; sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll) but it was the first time since the Witch Trials that you could be convicted of murder based on religious speculation.
Some journalists have done an excellent job of covering the West Memphis Three, but a lot of people who have had successful careers built on fearmongering owe these men an apology.