Monday, January 23, 2012

Giggle Fits

I've become staid and proper and politically correct in my old age, but I still was reduced to uncontrolled giggling upon reading this AP news story.

With cameras barred from a high-profile corruption trial, a television station has puppets acting out the sometimes-steamy testimony about hookers, gambling and sexually transmitted diseases. In one scene, a furry hand stuffs cash down the shirt of a puppet prostitute.

"I'm horrified," a laughing anchorwoman said after a segment shown this week on WOIO, a CBS affiliate in Cleveland, where the trial of longtime Democratic power broker Jimmy Dimora is the talk of the town. ...

A talking, buck-toothed squirrel "reporter" provides the play-by-play in an exaggerated, "you won't believe this" tone. A black-robed puppet sits at the judge's bench. And in the jury box, the puppets yawn during the trial.

OK, I admit I was a little embarrassed by my response and I guess I still am. I practiced law for over 30 years and, while the judicial system is far from perfect, my experience has been that it has generally worked, often under difficult circumstances.

Further, I see nothing wrong about barring cameras from the trial courtroom. Television cameras can be very intimidating to witnesses and to jury members, which can impede justice. As long as members of the public, including reporters, have access to the proceedings, there is less of a chance of justice being perverted and more of a chance that the parties will get a fair trial.

So why my giggle fit?

Well, first of all, the humorous take on the proceedings certainly looked familiar. Witnesses often can't get their story straight, judges can be arrogant, jurors do nod off. It happens. A little poke at our foibles certainly does not mean the end of civilization as we know it. Stephen Colbert is demonstrating that right now with respect to our electioneering system.

And it helped to know that this was not the only reportage of the trial done by the television station. A straight news summary was done, and the puppet show came only at the very end of the show. This very serious trial did get serious coverage.

Finally, the fun-poking included the news media: the "buck-toothed squirrel" reporter was a brilliant stroke. I never tried a high-profile case (or even middle-profile one), but when I watched television news regularly I was often appalled at the pompous delivery of some reporters who clearly saw themselves well above the fray and everyone involved in it.

Hmmm...maybe I'm not all that embarrassed after all.

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Blogger Charles said...

You can see it here.

10:33 PM  

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