So, what does that tell us? Maybe the people of Chattanooga "learn more" than the supposedly more "sophisticated" people of the Baltimore-DC area. Point to ponder.
In 1995, economist Robert Lucas won the Nobel Prize in economics for his promotion of the theory of Rational Expectations, which is based upon a belief that people change their behavior and their expectations when events prove that original worldview incorrect. (Because "RadEx" is mathematically-based, the changes come instantaneously and not slowly over time.)
At one level, I can appreciate the theory, although I do think it has its own set of flaws. Nonetheless I have observed partial "RadEx" in the way that true professionals handle accusations of child sexual molestation. After the disasters of the 1980s and 1990s, in which "therapists" and "investigators" used highly-suspect interviewing techniques to draw lurid stories of molestation that should have been suspect on their face. After numerous innocent people were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, and after the appeals and state supreme courts overturned most of those convictions, the professionals, such as Dr. William Bernet and Dr. Nancy Aldridge, worked hard to develop consistent and truth-based standards to try to avoid the false accusations and to find if actual molestation really occurred.
However, there is one institution that, like the Bourbons of France who "learned nothing and forgot nothing," continues to jump on the accusation bandwagons: the media. In Tonya Craft's case, we saw the local media (and especially WTVC, Channel 9) continue to run right over the cliff as soon as the accusations against Ms. Craft were made public.
(WRCB, Channel 3, was a notable exception in its coverage, but that was because the news team had some good leadership that was familiar with how false accusations are made, and took a much more even-handed approach, something that angered the prosecutors, Len Gregor and Chris Arnt.)
In other words, at least until the trial, when the state's case was shown to be an empty box, most of the local media pretty much repeated what the police and prosecutors were saying. Unfortunately, what we saw in Chattanooga is the rule, not the exception.
Valerie Carlton was charged with a number of sexual abuse crimes in a case that in many ways paralleled that of Ms. Craft. (You can read the parallels in this link.) Unlike Ms. Craft, the 28 counts disappeared before she was to come to trial, and you can read more about her case from a supporter here. Of course, this was not before "Head State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly of Harford County, Maryland, gave lurid statements to the press a year ago describing Carlton as a dangerous neighborhood female pedophile."
Not surprisingly, the Baltimore-based television media jumped on the story and echoed the prosecutor's claims as though they were issued ex cathedra. WBAL-TV declared this:
The Harford County state's attorney's office said Carlton has lived in the Joppa community for 15 years and the office is concerned there could be more victims.WJZ (Baltimore's CBS affiliate) was no better. Its original broadcast screamed out the same damning material:
"Since the victims are from her neighborhood, there may be other victims in the neighborhood we haven't identified yet or haven't come forward. It's more of a precautionary matter," said county state's attorney Joseph Cassilly.
The parents of one of the girls spoke with 11 News just in case there were other victims out there.
"(We're) hurt, furious, revengeful, that's about all I can say," the parent said. The parent's name is being withheld to protect the victim. (Emphasis mine)
A 40-year-old mother of a young girl has been indicted for 28 counts, including sexual child abuse, attempted child kidnapping and extortion of two girls, ages five and six. One victim is a relative. She is also charged with reckless endangerment for allegedly providing tainted breast milk to a newborn baby.Notice that not one time do the reporters use the proper term "alleged victims," as though it was a foregone conclusion that Ms. Carlton was guilty of all charges (and maybe even more). More telling is the fact that a search of the websites of those TV station sites does not have a single mention of the charges being dismissed.
The state's attorney says this is an unusual case, since the defendant, Valerie Carlton, and the two victims are all females.
"I'm so angry. This is disgusting. This is disgusting that this woman can do that to two children," said Barbara McNamara.
"It was a shock, because it's somebody's mom, more than anything else. 'Cause normally it's a dad thing," said Carla Slunt.
Slunt and other neighbors knew about the allegations from other parents. Her daughter was not allowed to go near Carlton or her house. The investigation has been going on for at least six months.
Investigators believe all of the abuse happened in Carlton's home. The reason this investigation was launched is a neighbor called the child advocacy hotline with a complaint and a school official noticed that one of the young girls behaved strangely in the classroom.
Carlton is accused of committing the offenses from January 2008 through April 2009 at her home.
"It's difficult to say with a child, how much they remember, how much they associate but we are aware that at least one of the victims was having issues with respect to dealing with this," said Harford County State's Attorney Joe Cecilly.
Prosecutors believe there could be other victims. (Emphasis mine)
In other words, the media was quite happy to declare Ms. Carlton to be guilty, but did not have even the decency to report on the aftermath. (Then the mainstream media [MSM] people wonder why the rest of us hold them in such contempt.)
I don't have any good answers as to why this is the case, except to say that the MSM is a product of the Progressive Era, and the modern MSM is populated with people who fit that category. In that view, government officials (as long as they are from the "correct" political party, or have "Progressive" attitudes) can do no wrong. All too often, MSM "news" is little more than a government press release, and the Carlton case demonstrates that very sad fact.
For all of the "watchdog of government" we hear from journalists and the J-school crowd, the MSM is a partner of government, and some of the worst victims of this unholy alliance are those who are falsely accused of crimes. Yes, there are heroic exceptions, such as we saw from much of the Chattanooga-area media during the Craft trial, when reporters refused to be stenographers for the prosecution (with the exception of Channel 9), but the general rule is that the media will run over the cliff when false accusations come about, and especially false accusations about child molestation.
As one who followed the MSM during the infamous Duke Lacrosse case, it really has hit me that unlike the real professionals who interview children, most journalists (like the "interviewers" of the Children's Advocacy Centers around the country) simply learned nothing from what happened two decades ago. Thus, they are ready to jump on the most lurid and unbelievable stories and ask no hard questions of the authorities. (It seems that no one in the Baltimore-area media is willing to question the prosecution tactics and how these false charges came about in the first place. And then people wonder why we have so much prosecutorial and police misconduct.)
Of course, as we have seen with the media in the Carlton case, few journalists even have the decency to follow up when the facts don't fit the original allegations. I guess we can be thankful for what we saw in Chattanooga, but that was the exception to the rule, and a sad exception it is.
So, a woman is falsely accused and spends more than a year in jail, is subject to beatings and other humiliations in large part because the media didn't care about the truth.