Monday, June 24, 2013

WTMJ-TV Thinks They Are Judge, Jury And Executioner

It's not just the Teapublicans and their corporate sponsors that have us involved in races to the bottom.  Now we see that the corporate media is likewise in their own race to the bottom.  First it was Fox 6's Mike Lowe running a sound bite talk show instead of, y'know, reporting the news.

TMJ4 wasn't about to be outdone in sinking to the bottom.

They are now running people's mugshots, whether they've even been charged or convicted in what is obviously an attempt at public shaming, ridiculing and dehumanizing the arrested people:

I highly doubt that they meant this as real news or to be complementary.

Adding to this is their little caption on each page:
Who is committing the crime in your neighborhood? Tune in to Wisconsin Tonight weekdays at 6:30 p.m. to see.
What they are doing is taking it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner in the sense that they have decided that these people need public shaming, just as they did with sandwich boards a couple of decades ago or stockades a couple of centuries ago.

The big problem with that - besides the fact they have no right to inflict punishment, especially on people not convicted of a crime - is that results may vary.

Case in point is from this article pointing out that shaming is not really an optimal solution:
Today, public shaming exercises haphazardly mix the real world with virtual reality. Judge Pinkey Carr sentences you to three hours of public sign-holding, but it’s impossible to predict how many photos and videos the news media and random passersby may produce. Nor can you predict how much notice this imagery will attract. Maybe it will hit the Web but die with little fanfare. Maybe it will become a viral sensation.

Given that the whole point of public humiliation is to turn attention into punishment, an audience of one million is a more severe punishment than an audience of one thousand. What this means, effectively, is that when a judge orders a person to stand with a sign, or even when a police station publishes the mug shot of a prostitution client, they don’t really know what degree of punishment they’re sanctioning. The reason that one photograph goes viral and another does not often has nothing to do with the crime being punished, but rather on what the person being punished looks like, or what kind of news day it is, or which particularly influential blogger or tweeter decides to note the case.

Judges have the power to create their own unique sentences. And courts have ruled that sentences involving public shaming are constitutional as long as they aspire to some other goal, such as deterrence or retribution.

But equal application of the law is a crucial element of our justice system. It’s one of the reasons we have sentencing guidelines. And quirky punishments designed to go viral don’t just fail to meet this standard of the law; they actively subvert it. Their primary goal is to court publicity, and that publicity can’t be accurately anticipated or controlled.

Public shaming may make for good YouTube content. And perhaps it can help end the scourge of restaurant reservation non-compliance. (No studies have been conducted yet measuring its efficacy in this regard.) In the end, though, it’s a tool best left to furious maître d’s and frustrated pet-owners. The allegedly impartial men and women who oversee our courtroom aren’t tasked with meting out novelty and entertainment. They’re tasked with meting out justice, and justice works best when it’s delivered in uniform, predictable fashion.
To which I would add that there is an awful lot of vigilantism out there these days. It would not be a great leap for some kook to see one of the people pictured, or someone resembling them in the lunatic's eye, and then catastrophe occurs.

Don't hold your breath for them to stop this anytime soon.  All of the subsidiaries of Journal Communications have even given up their pretenses of being impartial deliverers of the news.  They have embraced their inner propagandist and have let it blossom for the world to see.

Even as we go about claiming our state from the likes of Scott Walker, Robin Vos, Chris Abele and the other corporately controlled petty tyrants, we are going to reclaim the media from the corporately controlled propaganda machines that can no longer even show respect for people.

In the meantime, I would remind these propagandists and hate-mongers to remember that but for the grace of God, go they.


  1. It would be great if the went after the REAL criminals. The Banksters and Wall Street!

  2. When are going to put Wanker's picture up there ?

  3. Thanks Capper for exposing this. I have put up a post of every phone number for this station. Please call people.

  4. When the J-S started giving big-time column inches to Christian Schneider -- as pure and unapologetic a propagandist as anyone could want -- that was it. Even though I still respected their coverage of local sports, I had to cancel my subscription.

    No sense at all in paying to support such a destructive, damaging and corrupted enterprise.

  5. Greed without ethics.

  6. When will WTMJ begin running a picture of GOP Robin Vos carrying a sign that says "I lie. A lot."