Rutten sees baloney in Kobe treatment


Finally got a moment to read the 'Regarding Media" column in this morning's L.A. Times. Tim Rutten, who reported extensively on legal issues during the O.J. Simpson trial, takes the tack that Kobe Bryant's presumption of innocence is at the least abraded, and possibly shredded beyond repair.

There was a bromide widely circulated among commentators at the time of O.J. Simpson's trial, that celebrities, particularly star athletes, are really the only people who actually enjoy the presumption of innocence to which all Americans accused of crimes are constitutionally entitled.

It was baloney then, and it's baloney now. For most Americans — and particularly for savvy, world-weary journalists — the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" is simply rhetorical salve used to grease the rails that line the road to conviction.

He also picks up on the debate over Kobe's privacy versus the accuser's:

Meanwhile, the cone of silence, which recently reformed criminal statutes and modern media custom reserved for women who lodge allegations of sexual assault, shields Bryant's accuser from anything even remotely approaching the scrutiny to which his entire life now is being subjected. Mainstream media outlets, including The Times, for now have placed off-limits widely reported information that may shed light on the young woman's personal situation and emotional state at the time she made her complaint.

To note this is not to argue that she should not be entitled to such privacy until a court deems the information relevant and admissible. But the question is, where is the similar deference to which Kobe Bryant is entitled?

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