Seeking Credible TV News Voices
Wednesday - October 07, 2009
That short-lived tsunami watch we had last week got me thinking a little about what’s changed and what hasn’t in TV news. The tsunami never materialized, and I’m thankful for that. But for a few hours many people had on their TVs, waiting for updates.
I was reminded again of why certain things do matter when it comes to the people who deliver information to us, and weather folks are included because they’re the ones thrust to the fore-front when something like a tsunami or a hurricane comes along. If the person in front of that weather wall doesn’t exude experience, smarts, maturity and a calm and reassuring on-air presence during a crisis, I’ll change the channel until I find someone who does. That’s because even though I don’t discriminate on the basis of age, I do have to be able to respect and trust what the person is telling me. So while age doesn’t matter, credibility does. And the fact is that the two - age and credibility - often go hand in hand. It’s why most of my favorite news programs are anchored by men and women who are old enough to have a history. They also know their history, respect the facts and have a broad view of the world. In other words, they have more going for them than just a perfect physical presence on air.
The biggest difference now is that we go everywhere for news. Cable and the Internet are available, indispensable and immediate. Local TV news is one source out of many. So if I’m going to bother to watch, give me a person and a team I can trust, who understand Hawaii and have the ability to cut through all the unneeded bull and just deliver what we need. That’ll keep me coming back to local news - not bells, whistles, pretty faces or fancy graphics.
I’m watching something that almost makes me sick: a bunch of celebrities arguing that film director Roman Polanski is getting a bum deal because he may have to go to prison for raping a 13-year-old child. Polanski was arrested in Switzerland recently and is awaiting extradition, which could take weeks or months.
They say he was set up by a bad judge, that the “incident” happened 26 years ago, and that the now 39-year-old victim, Samantha Geimer, a Kauai resident, doesn’t want Polanski to be punished.
There’s no doubt the 69-year-old Polanski is a film genius. There’s no doubt he’s lived through the worst tragedy a person can endure - the murder of his wife and unborn child by the deranged Charles Manson and his insane and evil followers.
There is also no doubt he committed this crime. He admitted to it. Geimer accepted a monetary settlement from him years ago and says she doesn’t want him put behind bars - but that is irrelevant. All you have to do is read the transcript of her grand jury testimony to realize just how bad a crime this was. According to the testimony, he plied her with champagne and a Quaalude.
Q: What happened then?
A: He reached over and he kissed me. And I was telling him, “No,” you know, “Keep away.” But I was kind of afraid of him because there was no one else there ... I was ready to cry ... I was going, ‘No. Come on. Stop it.’ But I was afraid.”
Polanski told her to remove her underwear, and then photographed her naked.
Q: What happened after that?
A: He started to have intercourse with me.
The girl testified that Polanski then asked if she was on the pill. When she replied no, “He goes, ‘would you want me to go in through your back? (For anal sex)’ And I went, ‘No.’”
That did not stop him. When asked if she resisted, she said, “Not really,” because “I was afraid of him.” And when the ordeal ended, Polanski told her,
“Oh, don’t tell your mother about this.”
Remember. The girl was in the eighth grade. Luckily, she did tell her mother. Polanski agreed to a plea deal that spared him prison time. But when it appeared the judge would renege on the deal, he fled the country.
I believe in forgiveness. I believe in compassion. That has nothing to do with how the law should be administered. Polanski is a genius filmmaker who is also a convicted sex offender. There is absolutely no doubt he knew the girl was 13. There is absolutely no doubt he drugged her and had sex with her.
He is guilty and should be punished. Period.
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