Posted by: reisendame | October 1, 2007

Grace a disgrace to journalistic integrity

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What does it take to knock Nancy Grace off her high horse? Perhaps slap her with a wrongful-death lawsuit?

That’s what the family of Melinda Duckett decided to do when Duckett, the mother of a missing boy, committed suicide on September 8 after Grace verbally assaulted her in a phone interview for her CNN show. The network is also being sued.

The family charges that Grace and CNN misled Duckett into believing that the tv spot would help her find her two-year-old son, Trenton. Just minutes into the interview, it became clear that Grace was fully intent on tearing an on-air confession from Duckett that she was, in fact, responsible for her son’s disappearance.

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Grace, a former prosecutor, never hesitates to make her opinions known or offend her guests. She’s even been under fire for claiming that sleep apnea poses no health risks, and that is “complete BS.” This instance is proof, however, that she might be taking her agenda to Machiavellian heights. It doesn’t matter how she gets the story, even if someone dies, as long as her ratings stay high.

Even though CNN boasts to be “the most trusted name in news,” we have to question both Grace’s and the networks standards of journalistic integrity. Even if Grace was right, she approached the matter in a highly inappropriate fashion. A journalist cannot batter an interviewee in hopes of digging up the truth. There are rules about media outlets inflicting emotional distress on people who agree to be interviewed, and I think its despicable to dupe someone into talking under false pretenses. If Grace was wrong, she just destroyed an already-distraught mother. Grace accomplished nothing with this assault, other than landing herself in the hot seat.

Itwould be unfair to blame Grace in full for the fact that Duckett killed herself; clearly, this issue is far more complicated than meets the eye. Still, Grace has taken no responsibility for her irresponsible reporting at all. She calls the allegations “hateful…spiteful… and ridiculous.”

If Grace was really interested in getting to the bottom of this story, she could have certainly done a better job. A better journalist may not have led this woman to commit suicide. Even though Grace was once a prosecutor, journalists cannot resort to underhanded, dirty lawyer tricks if they want to serve and be respected by the public. This time, she’ll be on the other side of the courtroom.

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