Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Victims in the Periphery

The Duke rape case is a salacious cocktail of cable news excess and I for one want no part of it. Already the 24 hour news beast has swallowed this dirty morsel whole, churning out a fetid buffet of steamy details for the Great Unwashed to feast on. And to think it's just an hour or so down the road. Luckily I've avoided that particular bivouac thus far; the soft news outfit I find myself embedded in keeps me off the front lines for the most part. Others who share my logo haven't been so lucky. As a media event, the electronic nucleus swirling around Durham is of proportions unthinkable a dozen years ago. Now, however the slightest combination of sex, lies and race can spark a sat truck summit faster than you can say "Camp O.J."

If you can't tell, these vulture fests ain't my scene. I'm all for extended team smotherage, but when sordid accusations are the coin of the realm, I tend to wanna go wash my hands. Blame it on my early years. I was barely competent behind a camera when I found myself sitting ringside at a hideous display of accusation, hysteria and questionable evidence. Covering the Little Rascals Day Care trials were surreal experiences for the grizzliest of TV vets. To a young news punk like myself, it was a lid-blowing lesson in handcuff charisma, depraved testimony and bent justice. I've been chasing harmless fluff ever since, even though I still get sucked into the hard news skeev-a-thon more often than I wish. In fact, I wouldn't even be talking to you about this broadcast blight were it not for something I want you to read.

David Hoggard, a local blogger and world-class raconteur, found himself in the Durham County Courthouse and files a bracing report of electronic interlopers gone askew:
"About fifteen minutes into my stay, a rustle of activity began as videographers started shouldering their cameras and reporters pulled out their stenopads. They all started heading for the elevators inside the courthouse, so I did what any self respecting blogger would do...I followed them."
What he witnessed on the other side of that elevator ride had little to do with strippers or lacrosse, but it stayed with him all day until he forged a first-person narrative worthy of its own documentary. In it, he tells of a mother and daughter seeking justice against an abusive father, while the chattering classes loitered and scratched.
"The mother told of the many years of desparation and suspicion leading up to the day when she finally asked one of her daughters if what she suspected was true. She recounted, in great detail, all of the verbal and physical abuse that she endured until she finally mustered the nerve to call the police. Then the daughter spoke as my heart broke into little pieces."
Go read the whole incredible thing, then do me a favor: The next time you see the cable TV ghouls picking apart the Duke rape case carcass, turn off the blasted set and go hang out with your kids. The world, will be a better place.

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