. . . . The Rule of Law and Trial by Media Rather than by a Jury, with Cross-Examination
Publicity photo of Bill Cosby (William Morris agency, 1969) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
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I suppose this is entering into the hornet’s nest, but that has never stopped me before, especially in matters of what I consider to be principle and fundamental fairness.
I was like (probably) most of you as recently as four hours ago. I’ve been watching material on You Tube about Bill Cosby last night and late tonight. Yesterday I watched virtually all critical or hostile stuff, and so (as one would expect) I came away with a strong inclination to suspect (knowing that there has been no trial) that Cosby was guilty of at least some of the charges now being massively lobbed against him (which was how I was heavily leaning, anyway). I’m not inclined to disbelieve women who claim they have been raped. I have publicly defended one who has a high-profile brother of a different religious persuasion who says she is lying about their abusive father.
I have, however, tried to seek out some material that was in defense of Cosby, over the last several months, off and on. I was curious what the cast of The Cosby Show had to say. Most of them are tepidly in support of him in public, and seem to want to (understandably) remain neutral as to the charges; yet express respect for him as a person, or at least the person they themselves knew and know. One minor cast member has come out against him (I think it was one of the boyfriends on the show).
Tonight was different. I was browsing around You Tube (which I can watch on my TV through our Wii system) and I saw something with Cosby’s lawyer, Monique Pressley. This is an extremely impressive woman: whatever one thinks of the whole Cosby fiasco and tragedy. Fairly quickly, listening to her, I started wondering whether in fact Cosby is being unfairly accused, and indeed, quite possibly the victim of a huge frame-up. If you think Cosby has no possible legal case in defense of himself, do yourself a favor and listen to this brilliant attorney; hear her out, at one or more of these You Tube links [one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight].
I’ve been a close observer of the media and its antics for over thirty years. As a longtime pro-life activist (including participation in Operation Rescue) I even know firsthand how the media has lied wholesale about events that I was part of. I’ve also been personally lied about massively and continuously by anti-Catholics and other opponents of a Catholic apologist like myself for 20 years now, in the “hearing” of hundreds of thousands of people in the apologetics world. I know what it feels like to be falsely accused, even if my situation is on a scale vastly smaller than Cosby’s case.
How many times have we seen this happen: trial by media, with everyone and their third cousin’s barber and baker believing someone is guilty as Jesse James, before there has been a single day in court: the place where our system sets up a fair and intelligent, reasoned way to best determine guilt, beyond any reasonable doubt, and failing that, to assume that a person is not guilty?
Examples are legion. Remember the Tawana Brawley incident, where she was supposedly raped? Well, some of you are far too young (some not even born). I have a very good memory. That was in 1987-1988. She (a black woman) claimed that six white men raped her. That was all over TV. Ironically, Bill Cosby was among those who supported her. Rev. Al Sharpton prominently advocated her side of the story and engaged in his usual pathetic race-baiting (some things never change). It turned out that the whole thing was a hoax. The Wikipedia article states:
After hearing evidence, a grand jury concluded in October 1988 that Brawley had not been the victim of a forcible sexual assault and that she herself may have created the appearance of such an attack. The New York prosecutor whom Brawley had accused as one of her alleged assailants successfully sued Brawley and her three advisers for defamation.
More recently, we’ve seen all these cases of police allegedly murdering innocent black men in cold blood, for no cause at all other than sheer racism and hatred. In some cases, it looks like an outrage of justice and police brutality indeed occurred (and most — black or white, conservative or liberal — who view the videos agree, prima facie). But in other high-profile instances, it is shown in the jury process that the myths widely propagated by the media were false. Michael Brown, a black man, was (no one disputes) shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. According to the mythology, he supposedly had his hands up in the air when he was shot. Actual eyewitness testimony revealed a vastly different story. According to the Wikipedia article:
The “hands up” account was widely circulated within the black community immediately after the shooting and it contributed to the strong protests and outrage about the killing of the unarmed man. It was not proved inaccurate until months later. Believing accounts that Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot, protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” . . .
A grand jury was called and given extensive evidence from Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County Prosecutor, in a highly unusual process. On November 24, 2014, McCulloch announced that the St. Louis County grand jury had decided not to indict Wilson. On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice reported the conclusion of its own investigation and cleared Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting. It found that witnesses who corroborated the officer’s account were credible, and it was also supported by forensic evidence. Witnesses who had incriminated him were not credible, including some who admitted they had not directly seen the events. According to the evidence, Wilson shot Michael Brown in self-defense.
The eyewitnesses and grand jury included many black persons. These were both “trial by media” stories in which the media accounts had little or no relation (and not infrequently, literally an inverse relationship) to serious courtroom testimony and the determination of hard evidence.
Also, along these lines is the famous incident in which African-American Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by “white” (half-Peruvian) George Zimmerman in Florida in February 2012. Zimmerman was “lynched by TV” for many months and received many death threats. The Wikipedia article on Zimmerman describes the verdict of his trial and aftermath:
Zimmerman’s trial began on June 10, 2013, in Sanford. On July 13, a jury acquitted Zimmerman of the charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. For three years, the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated Zimmerman on civil rights charges. In February 2015, the DOJ concluded there was not sufficient evidence that Zimmerman intentionally violated the civil rights of Martin, saying the Zimmerman case did not meet the “high standard” for a federal hate crime prosecution.
Note, then, that in the latter two cases, a grand jury and jury found the defendant not guilty or insufficiently suspicious to be indicted and stand trial, and (significantly) in both cases, Obama’s Justice Department (which can hardly be accused of racial bias against black men) arrived at the same conclusion.
Political trashings of and outright slander of opponents, in conjunction with a willing liberal media ally also occurred in the notorious cases of conservative Republican Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork (1987) and Clarence Thomas (1991). Bork was successfully smeared (including prominently by Joe Biden), while Thomas was nominated, but is despised as a supposedly “Oreo / Uncle Tom” black conservative to this day.
Liberals will, of course, counter with the examples of President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton being subjected to the same sort of thing. The media has undeniably piled on both many times. The only problem in using this comparison, however, is that Bill Clinton actually did the thing that was the cause for his impeachment (sex with Monica Lewinsky). The blue dress proved that, after Clinton’s henchmen had tried to discredit Lewinsky. But he is wildly popular today (why the big difference compared to Cosby’s treatment, seeing that many women have accused him of immoral sexual antics, too?).
Likewise, Hillary actually did act irresponsibly with classified information (we know this is — at least ostensibly — the case in several individual examples that have been verified by the proper authorities). The FBI is currently investigating her as I write, and we haven’t seen the end of this story yet. But she will almost certainly be the Democratic candidate for President this year, unless she is indicted on felony charges, which is not at all an impossibility.
So far, then, I have chronicled incidents either involving white men accused of raping or killing black people, or “uppity” conservatives trashed by liberals. That’s all fashionable “PC” stuff: beloved and believed wholesale by many millions of partisan political liberals, seeking to verify and rationalize their worldview of systematic institutional racism and the wascally wascal, loathsome, despicable nature of any and all conservatives and pro-lifers.
But there is one case eerily similar to the Cosby situation: a very famous and loved black man accused of massive sexual crimes: that of the late Michael Jackson. Jackson, as most of us recall, was accused-by-the-media of molesting lots of young boys. What seems forgotten by many is that Jackson was never convicted in a court of law of any of these charges. One accusation in 1993 resulted in an out-of-court settlement, but Jackson was never indicted. Many indications could very well lead a reasonable person to believe that he was framed, in order to obtain money. Even the accuser’s mother was adamant that Jackson had done nothing wrong.
In 2003-2005, Michael Jackson was again accused; this time indicted and charged with seven counts of child molestation. On June 13, 2005, Jackson was acquitted on all counts. But how many people remember him as a pedophile (“sure” as they exist, that he was), despite there having been no proof in a legal sense? Well, he’s dead now, so all those who despised him for this unfounded (or at least unproven) reason need not worry any longer.
And that brings us back to Bill Cosby. Here is another immensely popular and hugely influential black man being relentlessly tried and trashed by the media, with now about 50 women having come forward with accusations of forcible sex and even rape, including use of drugs to make them “willing”, where otherwise they would not be. At face value, this seems insurmountably impressive and almost impossible to disagree with. 50 women, all corroborating the same general story? It’s distressing (from a Christian perspective) to learn that Bill Cosby was without question a great womanizer, but that is hardly a fault confined to him among famous, powerful, and rich people. Charges of rape are something entirely different: especially in the eyes of the law.
The large numbers present on the surface an “argument” of considerable cumulative force, yet it remains true that each case has to be examined and proven individually. Now that Cosby has been indicted for the first time, he’ll be able to have his day in court, and facts can be brought to bear, and accusers cross-examined, as opposed to the current farcical “media trial” and feeding frenzy. It turns out that once one closely examines what many of these women say, there are many manifest lies, holes in their testimonies, internal contradictions, character issues (such as being a prostitute or groupie), altogether insufficient evidence, cases of being a mistress for long periods, jumping on the bandwagon, etc. These people are gonna have to prove their charges in court: in the criminal trial and other lawsuits that various of the accusers have filed against Cosby.
Now, taking into consideration all of the backdrop of “trial by media” above, and realizing that the media gets it wrong almost every time in these sorts of incidents, isn’t it high time that we at least listened to Cosby’s side and some critiques of his accusers? I did that tonight, and I must say that I was floored and shocked by what I discovered. Beyond what I heard Cosby’s lawyer talk about, I ran across an astonishing, copiously documented You Tube show called Dru Story News. Whoever this person is, he has done a great deal of research and has discovered scores of damning facts about virtually all (yes, all) of Cosby’s accusers.
Anyone who is troubled and curious about the Cosby scandal and who seeks the facts of the matter, owes it to themselves to watch this. Don’t just listen to one side! Don’t convict Cosby by this illegitimate method without even giving him a chance to respond (through his lawyer and defenders). He may yet be guilty of something. I’m not saying there is no chance of that. Who knows? He has been indicted now, after all (thus a prosecutor believes he has sufficient evidence to convict him). We don’t know all the relevant facts. But he is entitled to give his side of the story.
The show was called Bombshell Cosby News! What the Media Didn’t Want You to See. It runs about 67 minutes, in three parts [one / two / three]. [Note: some of the images of women and language are not suitable for children]
I challenge anyone to watch the entire thing. You have to watch all of it. Give it a shot and come back and tell me if you have not had any change of mind at all, at least regarding Cosby’s possible innocence of the charges brought against him. If you come back, I want reasoning and fact, and interaction with the actual material you have seen: not emotionalism and irrationality and parroting of the media. I think this video has to change any remotely fair-minded person’s opinion, at least partially. The total number of people who have seen it so far is less than 10,000 for any of the three parts. Here’s hoping that this article will bring it a lot more exposure.
According to our legal and justice system, a man is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial by a jury of his peers. Bill Cosby isn’t within a million miles of that at this point. The material above raises plenty of reasonable doubts, believe me. And I highly suspect (though no one knows for sure) that when this stuff comes to trial, we will see a much different story and a likely acquittal (and some victories in his civil lawsuits). But if indeed Cosby is innocent of these rape charges, he has already gone through a living hell and his career has been irreparably damaged, because many people will never believe anything other than what the media onslaught has already “programmed” them to believe.
Somehow our society needs to stop these “media trials.” This is not the American system. It’s a bastardization of same; a disgrace. If Cosby is guilty, let it be determined in our courts and by juries. If it is not proven by that method, he deserves to be presumed innocent until it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt.
Addendum (4-27-18): Now we have had a trial by jury and Cosby was found guilty. I accept the conclusions of our legal system and the rule of law. See the discussion about it on my Facebook page.