Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Quiet Man

Richard Jewell is dead, at the age of 44.

In a somewhat ironic, somewhat and sadly expected denouement, the announcement came from his lawyer.

For those of you who don't immediately recognize the name -- which is almost surely the way the man himself would've wanted it in the first place -- Jewell was, for 88 days in 1996, the prime suspect in the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, which killed one person and wounded more than a hundred others.

Jewell was a security guard at the park and found the suspicious bag containing the bomb. He warned others about it and attempted to move them out of harm's way; there's little doubt that the death toll would've been much higher had Jewell not intervened, and indeed, at first he was hailed as a hero. But then something happened -- something entirely unsurprising when you consider the grotesque nature of modern media saturation and just what's required to keep it running in a manner that's satisfying to both the unscrupulous monsters at its helm and the hungry public it supposedly serves: Richard Jewell was turned into a villain -- the perfect villain actually.

Thanks to an over-zealous and incompetent federal prosecutor and a news cycle which demanded fresh blood, no matter the cost to innocents or the truth, Jewell was judged and convicted in the public eye before all the facts were in; his life was turned upside-down and inside-out, all on live television. Richard Jewell became the sacrificial lamb on the altar of the public's insatiable, voyeuristic right to know -- and lazy journalism's bullshit supposed obligation to that demand.

At all times during the sickening media circus, Jewell maintained his innocence.

Finally, after almost 12 weeks of non-stop harassment and conjecture -- Richard Jewell was cleared of any and all wrongdoing. It would be years before America realized that the bomb had in fact been planted by right-wing psychopath and abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph.

But by the time the prosecutor officially apologized to Jewell -- and the media did its usual post-hoc hand-wringing and soul-searching -- the damage had already been done. Jewell's life had been ruined.

From a strictly mathematical perspective, it might have been worth the destruction of one innocent man to teach the media the crucial lesson that blood in the water provides no sanction for an unconscionable feeding frenzy -- to save the lives of the next generation of Richard Jewells.

Unfortunately, all it takes is a flip through the TV stations or a glance at a newspaper to realize that the media has learned absolutely nothing.

Imagine for a moment what kind of baseless accusations would've vomited out of the mouth of, say, Nancy Grace, had she had her own cable news show during the Jewell saga: Likely the same baseless and despicable accusations she now levels at every other untried and technically innocent person she arrogantly deems to be guilty, despite it never having been proven in a court of law.

Richard Jewell is gone, but his legacy lives on.

It's too bad the media chooses to ignore it -- particularly since, for all intents and purposes, they ended Jewell's life a decade ago.


Queen of Everything said...

Dolphins in the tuna, slaughtered for profit. It's our way, sadly enough.

Jim said...

I was totally with you up until the last part which was inexplicably invisible to me...

I wonder if it has anything to do with my refusal to acknowledge the existence of Nancy Grace?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I was in men's room at the time of your posting.

Yes, nice work Chez..Jewell got shafted, like the many more within our great system of juries and political prosecutors/judges. Fortunately for him, the prosecutor wasn't that zealous.

Did you ever hear about the Tankleff case, out on Long Island? 18 year old sentenced for two consec. 25 year terms for killing his parents when it was, and has been, so obvious that the kid was framed by a Suffolk County Detective James McCready, (who by the way among all the other miscreants in the case) after Marty was sentenced went into business with Marty's half sister's husband (restaurant) who b/c Marty was in jail, apparently received the proceeds of the estate worth a few mill (in 1988). The lies and the conflicts are outrageous and Suffolk County is still fighting to keep this kid locked up.


Right now, at this very moment, on my Firefox browser's homepage for, the following four current news headlines are:

1. "Craig Steps Down From Senate committees"

2. Former Olympic Bomb Suspect Jewell Dies"

3. "Flight Canceled Over Arabic Speaking Men"

4. "Leona Helmsley's Dog Inherits $12 Million"


Gidget said...

Nancy Grace DID comment on Richard Jewell when it was first reported that he was a person of interest. She didn't have her own show back then, but she did do some correspondent work for CNN. She said that Jewell's ego and his desire to be in front of television cameras would give the police plenty of voice samples for them to compare to the anonymous tipster. I remember thinking how hypocritical she was, accusing Jewell of wanting media attention when that was exactly what SHE was after. To this day every time I see her, or hear her voice, I think of the way she tried to "convict" Richard Jewell with absolutely no evidence. And upon hearing of his death today, I had to wonder if she felt any remorse at all.

harris said...

You work in TV, Chez. Why can't you pricks ever learn from kinds of things? Not that newspapers are innocent, Wen Ho Lee ring a bell, but TV drives these clusterfucks.

girl with curious hair said...

A shining example of how no good deed goes unpunished...

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

I was eight years old in 1996, so I never really knew about this...
but hearing it now I have to feel sorry for the guy--he was basically a hero and they tried to punish him for it.

LiteraryAlchemist said...

Turner Classic Movies aired "Ace in the Hole", over the weekend. I'd never heard of the film, until then. All I could think of was "Deus ex Malcontent" as the story unfolded.

Dave said...

Well folks if i've learned anything from this it's helping people doesn't pay. That and Nancy Grace makes me wanna puke, not just her face but her whole stinking, rotting facade.

Al said...

Yeah, I remember that mess. News painted him as a cop wanna-be security guard and basically accused him of planting the bomb. It was awful - poor bastard was a nobody that did the right thing and next thing he knew there were cameras in his face everywhere he went.

You click on the TV to see the real scumbags pocketing millions in Iraq, slimeball politicos pounding the pulpit (while hiding in the closet) and kids getting blown to bits for nothing and what's highlighted? A fucking dipshit anorexic heiress lead story on the prime time news because she got out of jail.


No point here, just ranting.