Friday, December 13

Media double-standard is evident in the Jameis Winston case (UPDATED 12/15/2013)

The words used to describe Winston's alleged crimes were a far less incendiary than those used prior to Sandusky's conviction.  However, the media was  consistent in its poor investigative journalism.

Ray Blehar

The media defenders of Jameis Winston - almost everyone - have put their hypocrisy (and incompetence) on display once again.

Prior to charges being filed, the media reminded us that Winston was innocent until proven guilty and they made sure their reporting reflected the same.  Interestingly, the media did not have the same standard when it came to writing about Jerry Sandusky, Tim Curley, Gary Schultz, or Graham Spanier.

Words matter. And the words that were not used in the Winston case drove the public into a frenzy in the Sandusky case  -- specifically, victim, cover-up, and rape.

Media Example Prior to Willie Meggs Press Conference

Here is an excerpted article from the Palm Beach (Fl) Post from December 4th, prior to the press conference that announced no charges would be filed.  

My emphasis has been added to demonstrate how the article ensures less sympathy for the alleged victim and words in parenthesis reflect use of language common in the Sandusky case. 

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will find out today if he will face charges in a sexual assault (RAPE) case that came to light last month when prosecutors reopened an investigation that had been dormant for nearly a year, casting a shadow over a season in which the redshirt freshman is the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy and the face of the country’s No. 1-ranked team...

...The alleged assault (RAPE) took place Dec. 7, 2012. The accuser (VICTIM) was a Florida State student at the time the complaint was filed, and her family said she did not know the identity of her attacker until early January, when she reported him as Winston. The accuser (VICTIM) has since left FSU.

The family of the accuser (VICTIM) has criticized the way the Tallahassee Police Department handled (ATTEMPTED TO COVER UP) the case, saying it refused to seek a DNA sample from Winston in a timely manner."

Note the differences in how Winston's case was described versus the Sandusky case:

In Winston's case, there was no victim -- just an accuser.
In Sandusky's case, prior to his conviction (while he was still innocent) -- the were no accusers, but victims.

In Winston's case, the accuser was a Florida State student, not a girl.
In Sandusky's case, the victims, most of whom were teenagers, were called "boys."

In Winston's case, he was under investigation for alleged sexual assault.
In Sandusky's case, he was "seen raping a boy in a Penn State locker room," yet Sandusky would eventually be acquitted of that charge.  

While Sandusky's crimes were horrible, there was not sufficient evidence for the media to call him a serial child rapist, but you'll find the media continues to use that label.

Have you ever heard of a serial rapist who only raped one person?  I haven't.

And if that is the new standard for "serial" in America, then every crime is a serial crime and every one convicted of a single crime is a serial offender.

No Scrutiny of the Affidavits

While the media has often pointed out the testimony from Winston's roommate and friend -- taken nearly a year after the incident - support the position of consensual sex, the affidavits are so close in form and content that they appear to be very well rehearsed, almost scripted, interviews.   These affidavits were taken in the presence of an attorney who had been retained by Winston.   The media has taken these affidavits/statements at face value.

In my opinion, these affidavits flunk the "eye-test."   Badly.

Seriously?  Two affidavits from two witnesses with the same number of facts presented in the exact same order and the descriptions are nearly identical.   After a year to rehearse these claims, no doubt the stories are consistent and back Winston.  

Whether these are truthful is an entirely different matter.

Media's Biased Reporting of 9-1-1 Call
In an article which headlined the 9-1-1 call, the article stated the alleged victim was raped and then driven home on a scooter, but failed to mention that the alleged victim believed she was struck on the head.  That's quite an omission.

Conversely, very few media reports highlight the alleged victim's friends interviews taken in the immediate aftermath of the incident that indicated a rape had occurred.  The interview with Marcus Jordan, friend of the accuser, was quite convincing in describing behaviors that would be typical of a rape victim.  Friend Jenna Weisberg, who made the 9-1-1 call, said the alleged victim was "hysterically crying" and told her "she believed she had been raped."  In fact, you could hear the wailing of the alleged victim in the background during the call.   

The statements of the friends, who back the story of the accuser, have rarely been mentioned in this case.  

More Poor Investigative Journalism
Facts and evidence never mattered in the Sandusky case and, in Winston's case, the inconvenient facts don't matter either.  Essentially, the media followed the story line of the PA OAG in the Sandusky case and is doing the same thing in the Winston case -- following the report of Leon County State Attorney, Willie Meggs.

The media repeated Meggs statements that there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute, the victim's story was inconsistent, and that Winston's teammates supported his story -- but I'm pretty sure they didn't bother to find out the facts for themselves.  Just as in the Sandusky case, the prosecutors left out the facts that were inconvenient to their case.

Lab Reports
The police report in Winston's case stated that semen was found in the anal swabs from the accuser.  Few media reports mentioned that fact, but it is plainly typed in the report.
Maybe that fact was overlooked because  the police report said no foreign DNA was found on the anal swab.  

The State Attorney's report (page 7) surmised it was likely no foreign DNA was found in the semen due to an insufficient sample.  This is a prosecutor's version of evidence and events and it should not be taken as the definitive reason because it was not a reason provided by the lab.  

The lab didn't give a reason why no foreign DNA was present.  That too is a serious omission.

Knowing what we know of the attorney's version of events in the Sandusky grand jury presentment, it's not a good idea to put much stock in the report's explanation of the missing DNA.

Is it a cover-up?  Perhaps.

What would the public's reaction be to the fact that the alleged victim in this case had anal sex with Winston and didn't recall that fact?  That would certainly lend credence to her allegation of being hit in the back of the head and being in and out of consciousness.

In the Sandusky case, the police didn't bother to perform a medical examination of the only person who claimed to be anally raped and injured by Sandusky.  No one in the media mentioned or questioned that omission either.

It's safe to say the death of  investigative journalism has long passed.

Group Sex Ignored
In the Winston case, few in the media made much of the fact that Winston's roommate admitted he came into the room to see if he could join in the sexual activities with Winston and the accuser.  The roommate stated this happened with other women Winston had brought back to the apartment. The media yawned.

From 12/5/2013 Tallahassee Police Incident Report (page 3 of 4) " Casher stated he went into  the room to see if the female would engage in sexual activity with him as well (as has happened with other females he and Winston have brought back to their apartment);"

When Louis Freeh reported that  a few coaches saw Sandusky showering in the locker room with Second Mile youths after workouts, the media was aghast.   But they're not at all bothered by what happened in Winston's apartment.

Let that digest for a moment.  

The media was apoplectic about coaches observing Sandusky taking showers in the same shower room as minor males after a workout, but the media does not seem to be least bit bothered that two football players often tag-teamed women that Jameis Winston brought home from the bars.  

No one in the media is asking if those sessions were consensual or if they were cases where the woman was passed out/unconscious.

I suspect they're not asking because they don't want to know.  The Heisman Trophy has a character component and that type of illegal behavior could not be ignored, if it occurred.

But we won't ever know what happened in this case, unless, like in the Sandusky case, there is an investigation of the Winston (Tallahassee Police) investigation.

The lawyer of the accuser asked the Florida Attorney General to investigate the handling of this case, citing numerous other problems with the police investigation.

That request should be granted.


  1. Thanks, Ray, for bringing attention to this story. The New York Times reported his Heisman Award AND the rape accusation (link below). Nearly every other paragraph was about the allegation and questionable investigation.

    Keep up the good fight!

  2. Do you think her attorney will have any luck getting Florida to look into this case? This really seems like exactly the "football culture gone amuck" that supposedly happened at PSU.

    1. I don't think she can be successful in getting it re-investigating UNLESS she can make a very compelling case that causes the media to advocate for it.

  3. Re-posted from BWI:

    I'm not going to post links to the websites, but in under 15 minutes searching the web, I found out: the name of the alleged victim of JW; a photo; the name of her sorority; reports of alleged bomb threats and harassment of the soroity; reports of security guards being posted at the sorority because of threats and harassment.

    know what I did not find?

    the systemic outrage by so called "victim's advocates" peppering these websites with their inflated self-important mantras condemning JW, Jimbo Fisher, the TPD, the DA, JW's roommates, etc . . .

    it is almost like, oh I dunno, everyone just wants this all to go away so they can enjoy Good Morning America . . .

    we are also CERTAINLY not going to see any grandstanding from Emmert about a football program and its fans who put winning above the welfare of rape victims.

  4. I too have been searching the web far and wide for Freeh’s and the media’s scathing indictment of college football’s lack of integrity because of

    a decision by Mark Emmert and the NCAA to allow Winston to be named Heisman Trophy winner and play in the national championship game, not as a suspected rapist, but as a valued member of the NCAA football legacy.

  5. Anyone else notice that when you do searches for "Freeh" along with say, words like "dishonest" and "fraudulent" or "unethical", you get recent news coverage of Freeh giving "seminars" on "teaching honesty", or a Fortune magazine contrived award for "American of the year", or "Freeh warns of unethical practices"? Interesting to say the least. And, it would indicate that Louis Freeh actively engages in a sort of damage control after he does expensive hit pieces on innocent people. It also appears that he has Fortune Magazine as his avenue for spreading his propaganda that attempts to erase his expensive immoral and illegal services.
    In fact, this man Freeh, could be called diabolical. He is not only a hired gun to destroy peoples lives at a price, he is also exploiting key word searches by following up with "seminars" and "awards ceremonies" that use the very words that actually describe his own filthy character.
    This man, Freeh, is a threat to all honest Americans. He is attempting to buy or manipulate media avenues to falsely portray himself to the public after he breaks the law. And this is nothing short of a return to Nazi Germany. And it just cannot be tolerated in a FREE society. Or we have what's known as a "Freeh society".

  6. Ray: You state that "Sandusky's crimes are horrible" as if you know exactly what acts he committed. With all of the fabricated evidence and witness tampering by Frank Fina, et al, and "victims" lying though their teeth, I posit that we know nothing except that JS loved certain teenagers and probably crossed boundaries a few times. We seem to be in a area of the Twilight Zone that not even Heisenberg would want to step into.

  7. Media will always, ALWAYS, portray the suspected sexual abuse/assault of underage children by older adults (especially when the accused is a much older man) much more sympathetically than suspected sexual abuse/assault involving of-age college students by other of-age college students. Just the way it is. Children (for the most part) are viewed by society as more vulnerable and need to be protected.

    In the case of Winston, if the Governor of Florida was trying to take down and manipulate this case, you would have seen it portrayed differently by the media. I think the more interesting aspect here would be the media reaction and treatment if the star athlete here was white and the victim was black, instead of reversed.

  8. Gregory Verrnon,
    Let me just say that someone allegedly on Sandusky's "side" called his crimes "horrific." At least two dozen of the crimes were felony sex offenses (aka, serious offenses). What would you call it when an adult male was soaping down preteens and teenagers? In some cases, the victims were not old enough to understand the behavior was not normal because Sandusky told them "all the guys do it." That's "horrible," in my opinion.

  9. I would call an adult soaping down a kid a lewd act with a minor. The gist of your essay seems to be the selective use of words by the media to impart emotional meaning to sway the reader one way or another. Then point of my comment was to say that you did the same.

    Absent a metric to differentiate between what is disdainful, shameful, horrible, or objectively evil, I prefer stating the cold facts. How would "..a 16 year old varsity basketball player was gunned down walking home from practice in an apparent gang shooting..." rate compared to JS's shower? Pretty common in LA and people are actually inured to it. Or " the gassing of Syrian children was pretty bad so I'm going to spend the next half hour explaining why we and the rest of the world are going to look the other way..." ? (If anyone ever asks how the Halocaust occured, I plan to play that news conference over and over until it sinks in)