By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 5, 1997

Thoughts on problems with media

There was something disturbing about watching President Clinton's State of the Union speech last night.

I kept waiting for the networks to cut away from their coverage to switch to - of all things - the verdict in the O. J. Simpson civil trial.

It got me to thinking about just where the priorities of the American people and their media are located.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when the woman who accused Dallas Cowboys' players Erik Williams and Michael Irvin of rape said she lied about the whole thing?

Michael Irvin insisted that the media focus as much attention on the fact that they didn't do anything wrong as they did the possibility that they did do something wrong.

Well ... they haven't.

So, Michael and Erik, from a media member who didn't think you did anything wrong in the first place: We are sorry.

It's become commonplace to blame the media but on this one you can't really hold the media at fault. The people of this country enjoy dethroning their heroes almost as much as they do elevating them to the throne in the first place.

It's true. Just take a look at O.J. Simpson. Does anybody remember that the man was a legendary football player? Probably not. Whether you agreed or not, he was found not guilty folks. Let him get on with his life.

People assumed that Irvin must have done something wrong based on the fact that he was found with cocaine last year. Erik Williams made mistakes in the past, too. But that's exactly where those mistakes are - in the past.

Remember that silly saying that people are innocent until proven guilty? Yeah, I heard that once, too. I bet Richard Jewell used to believe in that saying, too. Of course, that was until everybody and their brother was convinced he was the Olympic Park bo mber despite the fact that the FBI never - I repeat, never - even had any evidence against him.

Former Arizona All-American basketball player Khalid Reeves was accused of rape when he was still a player here.

Was he ever charged with anything? No. But he's still bitter about the treatment he received.

The media and the people they serve need to take a step back and examine their work. The journalists out there who think their sole pupose in life is to expose a scandal present a problem. Sometimes in their zeal to get the big story and get it first, jou rnalists tend to make mistakes. Big ones.

And that's a problem that gives the profession - not to mention innocent people - a bad name.

Sports editor Craig Degel shares his thoughts on sports and life every Wednesday in the Wildcat.