This week Amanda Marcotte of Slate.com wrote what she considered an article worthy of publication entitled “Fox News Guest Says That the Owen Labrie Case May Be a Matter of Regret Sex.”
Many media outlets carried her article and, possibly unknowingly, repeated its errors and falsities. The original article contained statements taken out of context and deceiving the reader. Amanda chose to remove certain words that distorted not only what I said, but also who actually said it. Tellingly, those words were added back into the article after Slate hired a lawyer.
Instead of indicating I was repeating and paraphrasing what others had said, she then blatantly misconstrued my comment, suggesting that I believe anyone who later regrets consensual sex “routinely” claims rape as a result of “slut-panic,” and misled the reader as to the actual defense attorney’s theory of the case.
Marcotte’s Deceptive and Irresponsible Reporting
When she attributed the following to me:
“He doesn’t look like a rapist. He sits there, he looks like Harry Potter. He sits there with his glasses on, this young innocent kid. How could he possibly violently and maliciously rape this woman and plan it for months and months at a time as the prosecution claims?”
What she failed to include is the first half of that sentence, which was,
“And as she pointed out, the prosecution, on the clip…”.
Of course, Slate added the beginning of the sentence clearly attributing the statement to the prosecutor and not me – but only after their lawyer compared the clip to the article.
What Ms. Marcotte purposely omitted in the above quote completely misled the reader as to the actual defense attorney’s theory of the case. Had she included it in her article, the entire tone and context would change – but then she wouldn’t have her ‘straw man’ to attack.
Ms. Marcotte’s Record
Ms. Marcotte pursued her own journalistic agenda by taking liberties in distorting fact from fiction. This is nothing new. She has a history of making irresponsible and controversial comments. Her Wikipedia article contains high profile descriptions of her as a “leader of a cyber lynch mob,” “provocative,” “profanity-laced,” and “anti-Christian.” She quit serving as the blog master for John Edwards’s presidential campaign amid a whirlwind of controversy. When members of the Duke University lacrosse team were falsely accused of rape, she characterized their defenders as “rape-loving scum.” In a horrendously failed joke about the Duke matter, she posted to Twitter, “Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.”
Ms. Marcotte can have her opinions. I would vigorously defend her right to express them in public forums, regardless of how offensive I may find them. But Amanda is not entitled to ignore, distort or create “the truth” just to enhance the worthiness of a news story.
Words have meaning and impact and the power to hurt and persuade. The relationship between what I said and what I meant by those words is clear. They expose Ms. Marcotte’s article for what it is: a twisted and illogical interpretation of reality. If not for the Internet, her musings would be reserved for a bathroom stall at a truck stop port-a-potty where it would be best used as toilet paper rather than reading material.
Keith Sullivan is a NYC-based lawyer and adjunct law professor. He is the founding partner of Sullivan & Galleshaw, LLP. You can contact him and learn more about his legal practice at www.SullivanGalleshaw.com and www.CriminalDefense.SullivanGalleshaw.com. He is often asked to for interviews by various media outlets for his legal analysis and is a light-hearted legal columnist (when time permits!).