Letters to the editor
We lived in Eagle during 1984 to ’89, and seeing it on television every 20 minutes is strange. It looks good, makes me nostalgic, although the circumstances are tragic. I think things are better this week since the kids have stopped talking.
I’ve been following things in the Vail Daily. See a few names I recognize, but one I don’t see is Marka Moser’s. Is she around and could you give her my e-mail address if you run in to her? She did a great job reporting on education and in organizing communities for a Drug Abuse Free Eagle Valley and she was a good friend. I hope she is well.
Listening to the cable announcers talking about how small-town Eagle is brings up one of my fond memories of the valley. It was at the Jerry Ford golf tournament. I volunteered and was always assigned to the ninth hole. One time people were pulling off the highway to yell at a tall African American man coming up to the ninth tee. When he came up to putt, he said hi and I asked him who he was. He said, “Michael Jordan.”
That didn’t ring a bell, so I asked what he did. I mean Bob Hope and Clint Eastwood had just driven by in a golf cart. Who was Michael Jordan? He said, “You don’t watch much basketball do you?” Of course I said no. He was very nice, and my grandson thinks I’m hopeless.
I saw a lot of famous people in the valley and no one ever acted like a groupie to them. Eagle Valley people are not typical. My daughter is an Eagle Valley High School graduate and I taught at Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley Middle School.
My daughter and her family were visiting a friend on Bellyache over the Fourth of July. I hate the bad publicity. Actually, I hate all the publicity for the damage it could do.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the young girl. My daughter went to Northern Colorado, too, and this could be anyone’s daughter. She did nothing wrong and she was brave in reporting.
A recurring theme this summer involves Mike Cacioppo and his local tabloid. Conventional wisdom says that his rag mag it is not worth the paper it is printed on.
My wife is a local school teacher. She works hard, loves her job and I think she is amazing at what she does. Cacioppo has seen to it that she has not received money that voters in the majority agreed that she and her fellow teachers deserved.
Efficiency on the homefront benefits us all and I have a suggestion. Cacioppo’s pulp fiction has the requisite weight, tensile strength and smoothness to meet my daily needs.
As a bonus, it folds flat, eliminating the need for a bulky roll (camper’s take note). Try a stack yourself, and if you don’t like the results, well than at least it’s no skin off your backside.
Let’s all put Cacioppos words where they belong.
Right to entertain?
Justice is hurt and society reduced when media organizations crowd criminal proceedings involving the rich and famous. Because media organizations must profit, fame in court requires that the organizations compete or be hurt economically by failing to get the best coverage.
However, when the Rocky Mountain News launched an editorial to assail Judge Frederick Gannett for controlling media access to proceedings in the Colorado v. Bryant case, the newspaper stood on 1st Amendment grounds.
Funny how other rape cases do not garner the same media attention, and yet would seem to involve equally important First Amendment interests in the people’s right to know via the freedom of the press.
It is less the press importance of the Bryant case, and more about circulation and money.
Now, by failing or being excluded from full coverage, a newspaper may lose money and subscribers who want to read about the big drama in Eagle County. It seems fame, created by heavy cash promotion of individuals for entertainment purposes, has infected the press.
Professional news delivery to the people has always been of the purest forms of speech. However, entertainment appeals not to the propriety of the process and final outcome of a legal process designed for impartiality, but to a play-by-play passion for scandalous detail and downfall that may alter the process and prejudice the victim or the accused.
It is testimony to the preoccupation of television entertainment with criminal justice career dramas that the media seek to tap the public interest in the entertainment aspect of real criminal justice cases. I could believe that the Rocky Mountain News and other media were genuine in their 1st Amendment protestations of Judge Gannett’s order if they were equally interested in every rape case.
Since they aren’t, the shadow of the dangerous precedent for judicial control over press access to all criminal court proceedings reaches about as far as the Kobe Bryant case in Eagle County.
Besides, judicial orders in specific cases are not binding precedent on other courts unless they are ultimately challenged in appeal and are made to stand as appellate law interpreting the proper degree of judicial discretion balanced with the Bill of Rights.
In this case, we must consider other constitutional rights competing with the freedom of the press to do what it will, to include the right to a fair, speedy and impartial trial. Since drawn-out cases with famous people in them sell more papers, the media actually has an incentive to publicize the case more, since extra hearings often arise simply to deal with the effects of media reporting on the process and the jury pool.
Somehow, the media needs to find a way to apply its interests in criminal cases more equally. To do otherwise shows a bias toward money and power in what is reported, and an unspoken caste system as to whose cases, and therefore which citizens, are more important.
Michael S. Woodson