NEWS BLOG (WSAU) People who track and criticize liberal media bias will have a field day with this one… and they’re right.
A newspaper in Oregon knew about the sexual assault allegation against Al Gore two years ago and decided not to publish it. The executive editor of The Portland Tribune told The Politico.com “there are many test points that we would normally have to determine whether there was sufficient evidence that something inappropriate had occurred… We weren’t able to meet our own test.”
Wrong. On two counts.
First, the news media doesn't get to decide if something inappropriate has occurred when doing criminal justice reporting. Police, the DA, and ultimately a jury decide those issues. (Granted, a greater level of judgment is needed from reporters and editors when covering government affairs stories, like in stories of corruption of graft.) But this was a police investigation involving the former Vice President of the United States. Police took a statement from a woman who claimed she was a sexual assault victim. A report was filed with the Portland Police Department. How is that not a news story?
Secondly this non-reporting is dripping with news media superiority. The unspoken attitude is we decide what the public should and shouldn’t know. It's only news if we say it is. Their readers are denied the opportunity to weigh this story on their own and make their own conclusions. There are logical questions and legitimate doubts about the accuser. She told police she wanted to make a statement but did not want to file charges. That’s not normal. Is she preparing a lawsuit? Is she hoping she’ll be offered hush money? She went back to police and amended her statement, and used more colorful language to describe what happened. This is also unusual behavior for a sexual assault victim. She has apparently offered to sell her story to the tabloids. She claims to have unlaundered clothing in her closet with Gore’s DNA on it.
The police had their suspicions about her story. They declined to interview Gore, in part because of their own doubts and in part because she didn’t want to press charges. The editors at the Portland Tribune had doubts. I do too. But responsible reporting would put all of these facts in front of the public and let people decide. For people who say that’s unfair to Gore, this is another example of why public figures should not be using the services of a masseuse behind closed doors. Anyone who lives in the public eye can see the potential for a he-said she-said situation. Gore does not deserve a pass because of his own poor judgement.
Fox News says “we report, you decide.” In this case the Portland Tribune decided for you. They will be lampooned because of it, and they deserve what they get.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau