Monday, September 27, 2010

Should the Anchor Have Revealed That He was Also a Victim of a Pedophile?

OVER THE WEEKEND, while performing an interview on live television, a CNN anchor announced that he had been the victim of a pedophile (it's in the above video around the 5:25 mark).

The anchor was discussing the case of an Atlanta bishop who allegedly sexually abused boys at his church.

After listening to a sound bite and then talking to supporters of the Bishop, the anchor said, "I have never admitted this on television. I am a victim of a pedophile when I was a kid. Someone who was much older than me."

The anchor didn't go into detail about his own experiences. But he later added, "Those are the things that they do. The language, 'This doesn't make you gay, if you do this.'"

Was it wrong for the anchor to interject his own experiences into a story? Does his admission make him biased? Can he be an objective journalist if he's an alleged victim himself?

22 comments:

Erik Lexie said...

Actually the thing that concerns me most in cases like this is the continued ignorance about the distinction between "pedophile" and "child molester." They're not synonyms. Pedophilia is a feeling and not something necessarily acted upon, and unfortunately the fact that most people use it interchangeably with child molester means that people who have those feelings, but don't want to harm children and want to seek psychological help, are often too scared to do so.

That's the main reason why this bothers me, but it's especially bad because this person is in a position that influences people and saying things like, "that's what they do" suggests there is some kind of shadowey Organization of Child Molesters out there and they have a guidebook. As I've said before, I don't believe there is unbiased reporting, and I'm even OK with Fox adopting the approach of offering opinions after reporting, but this guy's experience is not relevant to the news at all-it sounds like he's using his position to get soemthing off his chest, which I don't find appropriate because it suggests his personal experience is part of the station's news report.

Amber Curtis said...

He was being emotional and trying to relate himself to his audience. Maybe announcing that at that very moment was a mistake, but trying to put out his personal life isn't exactly a bad thing. News is about personal life; he just chose to be a little more personal about it. He admitted it rather than someone else digging it up on him. I don't think he was trying to play the victim, but rather trying to let the audience understand this intense subject.

Erin Magarity said...

It is horrible that this happened to this CNN anchor, however it does allow him to be objective with his circumstances. It wasn't wrong of him to unveil this information, but I don't feel as though this should have been made public. Pedophelia, is with no doubt a horrible act, but as for any newscast an experience such as this should not be made public. Let the public themselves make their own opinions of the story at hand.

Alexis Wright-Whitley said...

I do feel terribly sorry for the CNN anchor, but his choice of words could have been different. He said that he was a victim of a pedophile. When I hear the word pedophile, I think of someone who preys on others, be in through videos, talking to inappropriately, or just staring at for sexual reasons. I know that there are many pedophiles in the world, and if that be the case, we all are victims of them in one way or another. What he should have said was that he was a victim of a child molester or a rapist. That would make more sense in terms of connecting with the story about the Atlanta bishop.

However, I don't think that he should have said this. I know that child molestation is a horrible thing, and I can't see it being justified in any way, but the story and the story alone should be what was being discussed. I also realize that it was very hard for him the talk about this subject, because he was a victim of the very same thing. However, I just don't think that he should have made that fact public then, and of course he would be biased against the subject. I think most people, who are not for child molestation (let's hope that's a lot of people), would be biased against this story also.

Monica Miller said...

I can see why he shared his story at this time. He wanted to connect with the topic and express his own struggles. Maybe seeing him open up on national TV will inspire someone else to speak up about what happened to them.

His admission definitely makes him biased. He said he wasn't calling the bishop a pedophile but he probably feels skeptical of anyone who is accused of pedophilia because it's hard to gain that trust back since he actually went through that. He tried to be as objective as possible and I don't think he meant to diminish the bishop's reputation any more than it already had been. He was just trying to offer some perspective and relate it back to his own experience and share the similarities between the two stories.

I don't think he should have brought it up in the first place but in retrospect, it probably wasn't the worst idea in the world.

doc_brown said...

The problem I have with Mr. Lemon isn't so much that he said that he was a victim of "pedophilia" (as Erik said before, pedophilia and child molestation are two different things), but that he almost uses it as a tool to provoke his interviewees' sympathy. Admittedly, the 3 guests are very evasive in answering Mr. Lemon's questions, but it would seem to be that he could have asked the same questions and been just as provocative without revealing his own very personal experiences. The way Don handled himself in saying he had been abused before makes it seem to me that he had already dealt with whatever distress his experience had caused him. I don't have a problem with him saying he had been abused in the past, but I don't think he should hold that over other people's heads either in an interview situation.

Dana Grooms said...

I believe that more than half the world has been fondled with, some to more extreme matters. And we should all be a bridge for one another to help us cope. I too have been a victim of molestation, but I share my story to let people know how real and often it happens to everyone. It wasn’t bad for CNN anchor Lemon to share his story with the world because it allowed him to personally vent HELL NO, he shouldn’t use it as a tactic to advertise his show because now the world will have sympathy, and some even may have empathy. His motives behind him revealing his story is something only him and God knows, I just hope he did it to let the world know it happens and be careful and prayerful.
On another note…any man that molests other man, boy, or subject with a penis…is gay!

Ali Watkins said...

As far as "can he be objective"...of course not. He's human. We are shaped by our experiences, and his would obviously give him a huge bias against pedophiles/child molesters/whatever you'd like to call these perverts. (granted, in my opinion, the crimes these people commit is absolutely unforgivable and worthy of every ounce of "bias" we can give them). Whether or not he should have announced his experience on national television is not really mine to decide. I imagine he felt that, by providing viewers with a secret from his past, it validated his opinion on the issue. In truth, it is his story to tell, and the only person it reflects back on is himself. His remark didn't take away the seriousness of the story or the bishop's actions. If anything, I think his comment made the three young people he was interviewing take a step back (they all sounded a little brainwashed to me...) and look at the situation again. I'm sure he is coming under plenty of criticism for it. It's his story, and his cross to bear- I don't think he harmed anyone with his five-second remark.

Anonymous said...

YIKES! I really wasn't expecting him to openly admit that on TV especially when conducting an interview such as this. In my opinion I feel like this was unprofessional on so many different levels. For one your PERSONAL experiences should not come into play when you are conducting an interview especially concerning an issue so serious as this. On the other hand, I do not believe that he should've openly admitted this because I'm sure that it made the interviees quite uncomfortable. I am so sorry that such a incident had to happen to this news anchor and I'm sure this story struck a cord in him, however I do not beleive this was the place nor the time to share his personal experience.


Taisje Claiborne

Nia Prater said...

Well, this is a very sensitive issue to begin with. No one wants to believe that a religious figure has been betraying the trust of his followers. But nevertheless, it has to be investigated. Of course in an ideal world, this would occur in an unbiased fashion. But I believe that Don Lemon in revealing his past trauma kind of underminded his intentions as a journalist. His experience was a terrible one of course, but I don't believe that a public forum where a story is being discussed is the right place to reveal it. I understand him trying to relate to the story, but it isn't the journalist's place to get involved in a story.

Ruth K. said...

I think it was interesting that he used his story to try to connect with a couple of people who seemed to not want to consider that their worshiped pastor might be a child molester. I don't know what to think about what he did. I don't think it was so much disturbing as just ballsy on his part. I think he could be an objective journalist, even if he spoke of his personal experience, so long as he didn't let his feelings on the matter overwhelm his sense of balance. I honestly think he was being way more realistic than those he was interviewing.

You ask tough questions and make us think - I like this blog!

Jonathan said...

Personally, I think he never should have taken the story. It's like asking and Eagles fan to write an objective article about a Dallas Cowboys game: he just brings too much baggage into the story for me to believe he can be objective. Might he be to the best of his ability? Sure. But knowing what I know, I'll never take what he says on the subject at face value - it will always be him as a victim, not as a reporter.

Emily Steck said...

As far as the football analogy, I just don't see it as relevant or even on the same issue. But that is besides my point. Though I agree that it is not entirely objective to interview supporters of an alleged child molester, I do think that it isn't wrong because there is always going to be some bias and in this case it was used to an advantage. For example, Nancy Grace regularly incorporates her opinions on crime in her interviews over court cases; Grace's fiancee in college was murdered. You can see that both Lemon and Grace have their opinions, but they do fully interview people. As much as I dislike Nancy Grace, I won't disagree with the fact that by the end of the interview, the viewer knows where the represented person stands (though it is debatable about whether Grace only asks questions she can get the answers she wants from). However, I think that with Lemon, it was his job to make sure that a personal question and statement was introduced to the story to fully understand where the supporters are coming from. Though the move was daring, I think that it would be nearly impossible to be in Lemon's situation not to ask these questions.

Joe Krause said...

His closeness to the issue offers a useful perspective but when that comes from the mediator in the situation it makes the floor unbalanced to a degree that will cause the audience to support the views of the familiar authoritative figure (Lemon) and not give the issue a fair chance. if they wanted to get stories from molestation victims then they should have had those who felt comfortable talking about it on the program to offer their insight into the situation. I think it would be tough for Lemon to talk about this issue without brining his personal story into it but thats part of being in the public eye and discussing unresolved issues.

Andrea Cicio said...

Although his role in discussing this case revived the overwhelming emotions associated with being a victim of sexual abuse, it was wrong of the anchor to interject his personal experiences. While reporting and interviewing, the journalist is supposed to narrate the story; not include himself in it. With this said, the anchor's admission of his devastating, hidden childhood secret makes him biased. This is because he asserts his connection to a similar experience and is taking the story out of an objective spotlight.

Don't get me wrong, I do condone the overlapping of the journalist's opinion and his story, but not when reporting fact-based news. If the consumer wants human interest stories, as well as the journalist's personal insight, he can turn to several soft-news outlets and editorials (specifically, the latter, for a serious admission such as this anchor's.)

Meghan Dreyer said...

I do not think that it was wrong for the interviewer to say that he was a victim of pedophilia, but he should not have done it during an interview about that subject.It is not wrong to spread information about a serious subject, but not when you are meant to be unbiased and objective about it at the time. Some other time would have been fine. I also feel like this does make him a little biased because he is less inclined to look at the side of the supporters of the Bishop with an open mind.

Lauren Petrie said...

Although this is a terrible experience for the news anchor, I don't think he should have announced this on public TV. From what i've learned about Journalism, I think that it's the job of the journalist (whether broadcast or print) to keep themselves out of the story, unless it's an opinion/editorial story. The anchor had drawn the attention from the story about the bishop, to himself. I think that by doing this he is making himself look more self-center. Although that was a terrible experience for him, he shouldn't bring it up while discussing other stories.

Shannon said...

I do not believe that the journalist was wrong for interjecting his own experience into the interview. In our society we run on pure emotion and the fact that he could relate personally made the interview that much more interesting. It showed viewers that you NEVER know what a person is going through or went through until you get to know them. HOWEVER if I was to apply the lessons of journalism that we discussed in class, I can see why some found fault in the interview. In the world of journalism, it is the journalist's job to present a fair unbiased story based on facts and truth. The fact that this journalist shared his personal story with the public it is highly unlikely that he would be able to fairly critique the opposing side of the story. At the end of the day we are ALL human.

Kadidja said...

I feel like he may have revealed to much. But in a way he may have said this so the people and the viewers know that he can relate to the victims, but this can also affect the way he reports and deliver the news which may be a little bias because of him being a victim of a pedophile.

Jonathan Ristaino said...

It seems like the anchor could not remain strictly objective, however I do not think it was necessarily wrong. I feel like he was merely defending the other side of the story which the others seemed to be pushing aside.

Layla Jones said...

Toward the end of the interview it seemed that the reporter became more emotionally attatched to the issue. Not only did he reveal that he was a victim of pedophilia but he was also playing devil's advocate when questioning the youth. It seemed he was trying to make them view Eddie Long as guilty rather than as their beloved pastor.

Marissa Harven said...

I don't see anything wrong with him relating to the story. I think he was definitely professional, while giving a perspective that is honest. Anchors shouldn't be lifeless dolls who read from cue cards.