Guilty until proven innocent

If you’ve read my blog over the years, you know I am a supporter of newspapers in general, and the News Tribune specifically.¬†Scales of Justice

Today however I am sorely disappointed by the paper’s editorial team and their decision to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to state Auditor Troy Kelley.

Kelley may be guilty as hell. I don’t know. Neither does the paper.

But to assert that, “the U.S.¬†Justice Department (USJD/DoJ) is not in the habit of flinging around charges lightly” comes as a shock to the senses.

Is the News Tribune so naive and ill-informed that they couldn’t quickly compile a long list of USDoJ abuses of power and discretion over the years?

My God, we live in a surveillance state. A nation where asset forfeiture, secret courts, hidden proceedings, corruption and political malfeasance run rampant.

The VERY last person (or people) who should fall into the, “They’ve been charged so they must be guilty” mindset is a journalist – or worse yet – and editorial board full of them.

Where is the skepticism? Where is the objectivity? I know this isn’t their reporting, but rather their editorial function – but how can the two not be at least a little related?

The editorial continues, “It (USJD) spent many months investigating Kelley, and the indictment lays out shocking accounts of large-scale theft from home buyers, tax evasion and obstruction of justice.”

Of course it does. That’s what indictments do. I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading this morning.

What if the USJD had spent more than “months” – but rather a year investigating? Straight to the electric chair? The length of the investigation determines how compelling the charges are? I might argue just the opposite.

In the News Tribune’s world apparently, being accused is enough to implore a person to voluntarily rush straight to ruin – to insist upon a resignation so the office is “above any suspicion.” What a low bar to set. We’re ALL under suspicion.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen a person get run up the flagpole by the legal system, brought to near ruin, and then be exonerated – with no fanfare. I’ve seen the harm it can cause a family, a business, and a soul.

Where are the skeptics? Who is going to hold the people with ALL the power, mainly the police and the prosecutors, accountable?

Nobody apparently. Not this time around.

It is the hard cases – the ones where “common sense” tells us the apparent truth – where “everybody” is aligned against another – that our values as journalists are measured.

I’m not the paper’s ombudsman. The team at the News Tribune can report circles around me and I bear them no ill will. I’m just a reader, but I’m disappointed.

What a sad day for the Tribune.