2016.006: Ethics in Legal Journalism, or Katheryn Tucker

 Posted on February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

About 15 seconds of my 20-minute argument in the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday ( watch it ) involved everyday incidents of teenagers being sexually aroused by adults, or adults being sexually aroused by children. I talked about my own experiences as a sexually aroused teen, which was true and amusing, and also about something that is true and important: the unwanted sexual attention paid to teen girls by grown men.

My point, which I made explicitly, was that this is not the sort of thing that government could or should try to criminalize-something orthogonal, as JDog would say, to my argument, which was that the forbidden speech falls into no historical category of unprotected speech, so that forbidding it is not permitted by the First Amendment and Supreme Court authority.

Fifteen seconds, and incidental, and the Daily Report's Katheryn Hayes Tucker chose to make that the focus of her coverage of the story. She found three outraged lawyers who were more than happy to be outraged in the paper without watching the entire argument, and described the outrageous snippet of argument to them.

I'm no Melissa Click, but I'm going to take a stand here and say that publishing comments on the reporter's summary of the facts as though they are comments on the facts is flat-out unethical. It is lying to the reader: "here's what this person said about the facts," rather than "here's what this person said about what I said about the facts."

But needs must in modern journalism. Because publicity and outrage, and page views above all.

I checked out Tucker's Twitter account, and found retweets of tweets from antiporn outfit National Conference on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), known as Morality in Media until the right-wing money got tight, including this one:

Every time you talk to your kids about the dangers of porn, they are safer. Get 10 ideas to #starttalking. Porn Harms (@Porn_Harms) February 24, 2016

I noticed this because Katheryn Tucker also retweeted the same "dangers of porn" tweet from Lisa Thompson at NCOSE.

Retweeting is not necessarily endorsing; it's not even necessarily true that retweeting the same tweet from two accounts at the same organization signals agreement (though it's more likely). But then after I commented on her article on Twitter, Katheryn Tucker sanitized her Twitter timeline of @Porn_Harms tweets. That is highly suspect, so I called her on it:

Katheryn Tucker did not care to comment, but she then retweeted this @Porn_Harms tweet:

The factors that contribute to #campussexualassault must be recognized. Porn Harms (@Porn_Harms) February 23, 2016

That retweet, without comment, after I called her on scrubbing @Porn_Harms from her timeline, reveals Katheryn Tucker's sympathy with NCOSE / Morality in Media, with the false proposition that there is "a campus culture of sexual assault," and with the notion that pornography fosters this nonexistent culture.

NCOSE / Morality in Media filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State in support of the statute. How did Katheryn Tucker's like-mindedness with the amicus contribute to her focus on the one tiny tangential portion of the argument that would outrage the feminist mob?

Later the Daily Report published Scott Greenfield's and my responses to the article under the headline, "Houston and New York City Lawyers Criticize Daily Report Article on Sex Exploitation/Free Speech Case." ((I have got to stop reading comments.))

That headline itself is biased spin. "Sex exploitation case" is NCOSE's take on the case, not an objective description. It presumes that, when a child is sexually aroused by an adult or an adult is sexually aroused by a child, the child is "exploited"-a presumption that trivializes actual exploitation.

The Daily Report's coverage of this story raises serious issues about how the Daily Report allows Katheryn Tucker's personal bias-bias that is antagonistic to free speech itself, upon which newspapers theoretically thrive ((If the State can forbid explicit communications to a minor with intent to arouse, the State can forbid criticism of the State with intent to arouse.))-to affect her reportage. So I'm just going to leave this here.

I will return to it when need be.

[Edited: I had changed Tucker's last name to Harris throughout. Fixed it.]

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