Saturday, May 27, 2006

Take a gander at this filing from WKYC's investigative reporter, Carl Monday.

It's sickening, it's repulsive ... and I'm not even talking about the man who masturbated in a public library.

No, what's disgusting here is the lengths to which some reporters will go in an attempt to create a conflict and boost ratings. Let's go through a few of the tricks Monday and WKYC use to make this a little juicier.

* Why is the librarian confronted by Monday? From her answers to Monday's questions, it's not clear whether she remembers our Ohio State fan as the same man who was tossed out of the building three years earlier for the same thing. Should she remember him? Does Monday remember the faces of every scoundrel he's profiled in the past three years?
* "In the just the past six months, we found more than 50 incidents of violence, pornography and sex." So what? Notice that Monday give the number of facilities those incidents cover later in the report -- and that number is 28. Twenty-eight.
So, to put it in statistical terms, in a span of 180 days in 28 different buildings, there were more than 50 -- heck, let's call it 60 -- incidents. That means there was, on average, one incident every three months in each Cuyahoga County library facility. Sounds like quite an epidemic, huh?
* "Teens having sex in a men's room. Teens having oral sex." What exactly is Monday's plan to stop teens from having sex in library bathrooms? Bathroom monitors? Hidden cameras? Ban teens from the library?
And who's the victim here? Yes, it's inappropriate to have sex in the library -- but it's also misleading and inappropriate to lump those incidents in with a mugging and possible sexual predators.
* Why is it necessary for Monday to go to the man's house and confront his parents? It's obvious Monday was trolling for a confrontation -- he shows up on the parents' lawn with a microphone and a camera crew and springs the news that their son has being caught on tape masturbating in the library -- and then he has the gall to act shocked when he gets one.
It's difficult to hear, but the father makes a perfectly reasonable request to Monday:

"I don't like you getting in my face, either, or my son's face. You want to talk to me, you come to me without that stuff on."

It's clear the TV crew isn't welcome, they are on private property ... and Monday then chooses to repeatedly jab his finger at the father and continue the conversation. Gee, you don't think the father might get physical?

There's a point late in the video where the father moves toward the cameraman and Monday grabs his arm. The father has done nothing except remove the microphone from Monday's hand, yet as he advances, Monday twice puts his hands on the father. Isn't that the threatening behavior in this video?

These are public buildings. That means just about anyone, as long as they aren't carrying a shotgun or a two-handed broadsword, can get through the doors. With that average of one incident every three months, I'd say they're doing a pretty fine job of limiting the number of masturbators, predators and other offenders. Carl Monday disagrees, though, and that's fine. I nominate him to make frequent sweeps of library restrooms to keep people from having sex.

This isn't a free pass for library masturbators, or anyone else breaking the law. But when the reporter spends more time trying to embellish the story and create controversy than he does seeking answers for the issue, that's lousy journalism.