JonBenet and the Power of the Press

There are probably a billion people blogging about the whole JonBenet thing who know way more about it than me, (I’ve really only skimmed headlines and caught tiny bits of a few newscasts and articles) but I feel compelled to jot down a few thoughts anyway—mostly about the power of the press to implant an impression in the public’s mind. It sure did in mine…

Okay, I’m sure the prosecutors in Boulder were instrumental in helping the press create the impression that the Ramsey’s were guilty… But I didn’t follow the case closely enough to know whether the press was the cart or the horse when compared to the prosecutors and police.

I do think the Ramsey’s weren’t particularly great at making public impressions—especially the mother, who I’m sad to hear died before this scumbag confessed. The image she projected on TV didn’t help her. I saw clips of Barbara Walters’s interview with the Ramseys on the news last night and I have to say, even though I was watching these clips knowing someone else had confessed, it looked to me like she was hiding something when Bawbwa asked point blank if she’d done it. Everything about her expression, her posture, her disdain for the question screamed “guilty” to me—or at least that she was hiding something.

But who knows how you’d react in the face of not only having your daughter sexually abused and murdered, but also being accused of the horrible crime. I don’t think any one of us could know whether we’d make a sympathetic impression while suffering that kind of loss. It’s not hard to imagine shutting off every emotion and appearing cold. Maybe it was just her emotions I sensed her hiding…

The sad thing is that the press is so focused on selling papers or TV ads that they go for the most lurid angle, with little regard for the truth. They know how easy it is to create an impression in the public’s mind and frankly the Ramsey’s simply didn’t seem very sympathetic—so it probably didn’t weigh too heavily on the members of the press to play up the possibility that they’d done it.

In addition to the Mrs. Ramsey’s less than warm & fuzzy image… it was shockingly easy for me to dislike a woman who’d put her six-year-old child in sexy costumes and enough make-up and hairspray to make an adult look sleezy, and then have her prance around on a stage competing with other little girls to be the prettiest. I’m very, very opposed to child beauty pageants. I think they enforce the worst kinds of values in children and if she wanted her kid to compete in something that would help her self-esteem and build confidence, why not try a sport, or enroll her in ballet classes, or art classes, or horse riding, or anything not 100% focused on how cute she was. I know this is just my opinion, and the late Mrs. Ramsey was entitled to hers… but the whole pageant thing clouded my assessment of her character.

I confess. I am one of many people who thought until this week that Mrs. Ramsey probably did it—or at least knew who did. I’m sorry for that.

And here I am letting the press reports help me assume this guy’s guilty already. Only time and a proper investigation will tell whether this guy is really guilty or just has some sick fantasy of wishing he’d done it… I’m so glad I didn’t become a journalist. I don’t think I have the stomach for it.

  3 comments for “JonBenet and the Power of the Press

  1. August 17, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    I tried to ignore this while it was a media frenzy because once an issue gets to that point there is no truth anymore. It becomes a way for print and broadcast (and now internet) media to exploit the story to grab more viewers and readers and therefore make more money.

    But, if JB’s Mom looked guilty on Baba Wawa’s show it’s probably because she was. That little girl would likely still be alive if she’d been allowed to be a little girl and not treated as an object in those pageants in sexy costumes and enough make-up and hairspray to make an adult look sleezy.

    I’m glad they’ve found the person who did it. I’m glad it’s over.

  2. August 17, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    Those pervy child beauty pagents give me the heebie jeebies. I’ll freely admit that knowing she involved her kid in that put me off the mother.

  3. August 27, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    I’m totally convinced this schmuck they have in custody is just stark raving crazy and has projected himself into the case…which dredges up the past and the pain for all involved. So sad.

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