We’re told that professional journalism is special. It is special because journalists are trained to be unbiased and they have editors. Editors are there to make sure that the T’s are crossed, the I’s are dotted, and no glaring factual errors are published.
Well, that’s what we’re told anyway. The reality is that “journalism” is pretty poor these days and it can be hard to tell when something is fake news, sloppy journalism, or just incompetence on display.
Take, for instance a piece on NPR by Yuki Noguchi on sexual harassment where Yuki interviews an Ohio lawyer specializing in sexual harassment. The lawyer, one Randy Freking (No. I’m not making up his name. Maybe NPR did. I think he should sue his parents.), is either a great lawyer trying to pre-bias a jury or he’s pretty incompetent himself. The gold quote is:
“Very few people realize that judges just have this power to toss cases out, despite the fact that the Constitution has a right to a trial by jury,” Freking says. “And for a woman who has been sexually harassed, and been victimized by their employer like that, and then just have that OK’d by some federal judge? It just absolutely rocks your world.”
Okay, why didn’t the Yuki Noguchi, a professional journalist stop him right there? Why didn’t the much vaunted editors at NPR flag the statement as being complete nonsense? Yes, the U.S. Constitution does mention the right to a trial by jury for the defendant – not the plaintiff. I know it probably is every lawyers dream to force every complaint to a jury trial (cha-ching), but one of the jobs that the judge is supposed to do is throw out cases with no merit.
Let’s assume that Freking gets his way and every complaint can only be resolved by a trial by jury, I can file a lawsuit against him for wearing obnoxious ties. He now has to defend himself, in court, in front of a jury on such a specious claim. Like I already said, I don’t know if he is genius or a complete idiot.
On the other hand, in airing this, NPR is no genius.