OPINION - Vinnie Politan/HLN – The jury got it right in Casey Anthony murder trial

OPINION - Vinnie Politan/HLN – The jury got it right in Casey Anthony murder trial

Orlando : FL : USA | Jul 05, 2011 at 10:27 PM PDT
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Casey Anthony

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 5, 2011) – The jury in the Casey Anthony murder trial may have delivered bad news to many, and despite the outrage and antics of TV Host Vinnie Politan and others at the InSession and HLN Network, our system of justice worked, and the jury got it right.

Casey Anthony, 25, was on trial for first degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, aggravated child abuse, and four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. If convicted on the murder charge, Anthony would have faced a possible death penalty.

A jury spent close to seven weeks hearing the case, and spent 11 hours in deliberation. They found that the state had not proven their case beyond all and every reasonable doubt. Anthony was found “not guilty” of all the felony charges. She was found guilty only on the four counts of lying to police.

And as HLN and InSession continue to broadcast its bias, George and Cindy Anthony, Casey's parents, are receiving death threats. I can only speculate how much InSession and HLN fueled the mob’s attitude in Orlando, Florida, and elsewhere around the world.

Politan, using his TV shows, started it all off, spewing his emotions, sensationalizing his disgust of the “not guilty” verdict, and should, as a lawyer and journalist, know better. As journalists, our emotions do not belong in a news story, and that is what Prime Time News by Politan is – a TV news show. As a lawyer, Politan should be respecting a system that allows everyone a defense, and demands that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

Yet, TV newscasters, like Politan, feel that because they are on TV, they have this right to say anything, distort the news and perform assassinations on live TV, before they even get to know all the evidence they should have had before opening their mouths. But once their live show ends, and the facts change, there is no retraction, and the same crap gets repeated over and over again, all night.

In the nearly three months that they have been broadcasting, I’ve never heard the world “alleged” come out of the mouths of Politan, Nancy Grace, or Jane Velez-Mitchell. And if they did say it, I can say with guarantee it was only a few times. I do know that Mitchell has used the word “alleged” at times during her broadcasts. A rare but most responsible reporting on claims without backing.

Defense attorney Cheney Mason said it the best about the lack of professional journalism, that TV attorneys who know nothing about the case should keep their mouths shut, and stop speculating and talking about cases they know nothing about. Mason, there are many journalists out there that do take their craft seriously.

Now, Caylee’s death is a tragedy. I agree with that, and I feel strongly that someone should be held accountable. And I understand what it’s like not having justice can do to a community and the police department that investigates these cases. But looking at the case prosecutor Jeff Ashton presented, it just didn’t work. He never should have presented it until it was polished.

Unlike my TV cousins, I would look at why there was a “not guilty” verdict, rather than piss and moan like AHN and InSession is doing. And if I were still doing investigative reporting, I’d first look at the state attorney’s office. Analyze the case they put on, and do a constructive story, so the people who have been devastated by the verdict might get some closure or understanding.

The way I see it, the prosecution put on a smear campaign against Casey Anthony, and had no direct proof that Casey was involved in either the dissapearance nor the death of her 3-year-old daughter, Caylee, who was last seen on June 16, 2008. Not one witness for the prosecution said Casey did it, or even could say she had something to do with the death of her daughter, Caylee. No DNA, no motive, and the world famous Dr. G, who has her own forensic TV show, could not determine how Caylee died. She based her homicide theory on 3 pieces of duct tape that was stuck to Caylee's hair. and a flawed autopsy based on defense witness. For six weeks, all they put on was innuendos and forensics that had nothing to do with Casey. Untried, unproven, and unrecognised forensics.

Now Politan may have been a prosecutor, but I have spent many years working with and covering them. I could never imagine the type attracted to that job say the things Politan and other lawyer-broadcasters have on TV.

Can anyone, who has seen the trial on TV, imagine Jeff Ashton acting like Politan? Not me. Most prosecutors I know are true professionals.

Oh, Politan and HLN, if you feel this is a character assassination, yep! It is. I never write opinions like this, but your broadcasts today inspired me. Your responsibility is to help the community understand and heal, not continue to speculate and make more accusations. This only inflames their passions, which can have devastating consequences once you are long gone.

But still, they will pick sound bites and video that suits their slant, and continue to run with it. Is that fair to the person who was found “not guilty” by our system? Or should we take them out back and shoot them anyway, because TV shows do not like the news they have to report on?

I was a law enforcement officer for six years, and a journalist for close to 35 years, with about 20 years covering crime and courts. Although most of my freelance career was as a photographer, I wrote for a newspaper as a staffer, and was able to cover and write about the astounding, upsetting news, putting my own emotions aside. And sometimes what I wrote may not have been popular, but it was objective.

In both my career as a police officer and a journalist, I have witnessed too many people being railroaded by faulty police work, insufficient evidence, and juries not applying the law correctly. This case must stand to show that our system must refuse to railroad defendants because the state or police say so.

Most police officers and prosecutors are honest folk, but I have seen many officers and detectives care more about convicting a person they hate, rather than looking for the truth. It disgusted me, as I thought police was there to fight for the people, and treat everyone, even those they arrest, as innocent until proven guilty.

We who do real news reporting can’t make unsubstantiated claims without attribution. When Politan or Nancy Grace vilifies a person, either waiting for trial or during their trial, it cheapens our legal system, and shows just how unprofessional some TV news agencies really are.

Towards the end of his broadcast, Politan got up on his TV soapbox, and said, during his “news broadcast,” that he has his right to express his opinion, that the First Amendment gives him this right. Yes, it does, but Politan should read some recent Supreme Court decisions, as not all speech is protected.

When you vilify a defendant on TV, profess them guilty, you are, in my opinion, expressing an unsubstantiated opinion that instills hate in your followers, that when a decision does not go your way, hate may take to action. And that, the Supreme Court has ruled, in as recently as in Doe vs. Reed, is an exception to the rights of free speech.

The decision says, in non-legalese, that any form of speech cannot have a “chill” on someone else’s rights to free speech or their ability to debate issues, because of a fear of reprisals. It can be said that the views and manner that HLN and InSession is broadcasting their views may make people act in a manner that prevents other expression of views. And this, according to the Supreme Court, is not protected speech.

Sensational TV news outlets are a stain on the American fabric, and because of HLN and InSession’s reach, it taints all the other media outlets that want to do it right, and present the news as information, and not “my opinion, which I have a right to.”

Who cares, Vinnie Politan? I do understand your pain, but today you and your fellow broadcasters went over the top on this, and need to apologize to the public, and the media in general.

Sarah Carden, producer of InSession and HLN, needs to sanction Politan and her other broadcasters for unprofessional journalism, and for overdoing it. Actions by large media outlets like them can have a devastating affect on all the other news outlets, and they may be judged to be as the same manipulative news casting as HLN and InSession.

Article Copyright ©2011 by George McGinn. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and link backs to this story may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Violators will be prosecuted to the extent that the law allows. For reprint requests, contact author at george.mcginn@gmail.com.

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Casey Anthony: Murder Trial - Part 3 - 6/9/11
George McGinn is based in Sarasota, Florida, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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