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Corporate News Sensationalism, Monetizing Injustice and Making Props of Victims

While all forms of sexual abuse clearly deserve our collective condemnation, the corporate media seem intent on sadly and suspiciously missing the mark regarding what should be concern number one— the children.

The New York Times, with the shadow of scandal looming over its leader, launched a “He said. She said.” commercial during the Golden Globe Awards. The ad clearly took a swipe at both President Donald Trump and entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein, and aimed to keep media and public focus on the divisive struggles between grown men and women.

But the new in-your-face television effort by the Times begs attention to history that clouds the paper’s credibility at the highest level. The newspaper’s current CEO, Mark Thompson, joined the Times in 2012 after running the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) for eight years.

During Thompson’s time at the BBC, not only did beloved children’s show host Jimmy Savile continue to flourish, the networked also squashed an investigation into Savile’s long-rumored sexual exploits with kids. British punk icon, former Sex Pistol John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon, claims he was banned from the BBC for alluding to Savile’s behavior all the way back in 1978.

After Savile’s death in 2011, a rival news network’s investigation revealed the popular entertainer had indeed raped and sexually assaulted hundreds of children. Fallout from the scandal still rocks Britain. The UK is embroiled in a years-long investigation into child sex crimes that reaches the highest levels of government, media and educational institutions.

In 2014, years after his BBC killed the Savile story, the Mark Thompson-run New York Times published a piece on the scandal. Op-Ed writer Laurie Penny specifically likened Savile’s cultural clout in Britain to that of a Johnny Carson or an Oprah Winfrey.

“In Britain in 2014, it is no longer a shock to see the face of a once beloved celebrity or well-known politician on the news in connection with pedophilia,” wrote Penny, also the author of ‘Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution’.

“Britain’s child sex abuse scandal is not a conspiracy,” Penny continued in the Times. “A conspiracy, even an organized cover-up, could be exposed as a one-off criminal disgrace. What’s happened in Britain— and has for generations — is bigger than a conspiracy. It is a culture of complicity that cuts across every major institution in public life: from Parliament to the police, from broadcasters to charities, from public schools to children’s homes. It operates on the tacit understanding that the rich, the powerful and the famous are permitted to exploit and hurt young people, sure in the knowledge that the elite will look after its own.”

So the Times, under Thompson, is fine with telling us that British society is corrupt to the core with child sex scandals. When Thompson ran the BBC and had a chance to help the kids, however, he looked the other way. Thompson initially claimed he’d never heard the decades-long rumors about Savile. Later, he admitted a journalist at a party did in fact talk to him about the BBC investigation of Sevile. Regardless, he maintains, he had nothing to do with his BBC killing the story.

Before Thompson took over the Times, the paper’s Public Editor questioned both his honesty and his fitness for the position. “How likely is it that (Thompson) knew nothing?” wondered Margaret Sullivan at the time, adding this scenario was highly unlikely given the potentially massive legal implications of the scandal. “His integrity and his decision-making are bound to affect the Times — profoundly. It’s worth considering now if he is the right person for the job.”

Apparently, Thompson was the right person for the job. As for Margaret Sullivan, her Public Editor position has since been eliminated from the Times.

How did Thompson’s paper react when child sex abuse allegations against American elites surfaced? Predictably, the Times answered with cries of “conspiracy theory”. Now I’m not here to go Pizzagate on you, but when denials are based as much on name-calling as evidence, something is generally amiss.

My journalistic instincts certainly found some credible points in a Times article “dissecting the Pizzagate conspiracy theories”, but the story is also sloppy and loses credibility by overstepping its bounds. A Steemit “debunking of the Times debunking” makes an equally cogent argument for further investigation.

Seems a fairly easy leap of faith for me to believe our American elites are probably not all that different from their British counterparts. Or at least it’s worth opening up our eyes to that possibility. Is it too much to ask our media to allow for some basic research and investigation, before immediately resorting to convenient calls of conspiracy?

To me, the story of the two Coreys — child actors Feldman and Haim — is the kind of hushed Hollywood tragedy we should all be able to rally around to try and prevent from happening again. These young boys were abused by adults, and by a system that protects elite predators.

It’s easy for the media to talk about harassment and even sexual assaults between adults, because in the end they’re still talking about sex, and sex sells. Open dialogue about kids and predators is a more uncomfortable conversation, but that talk should not get buried like the Jimmy Savile story. #MonetizingInjustice

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Tim Nuell
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Tim Nuell

Tim is a former reporter and a news producer who pursued the profession of journalism to seek out corruption and speak truth to power. After realizing that mainstream media's objective ran counter to Tim's purpose for pursuing a career in the "fourth estate", he exited the field of media and pursued life away from the limelight. Tim offers views and perspectives about culture and politics through the prism of media.
Tim Nuell
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