The Washington Post, The New York Times, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch within a day of each other took almost exactly the same angle on their stories about grand jury deliberations in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 8. All based on “official sources,” their stories presented Wilson’s “side” of the story—that Brown attacked him, he was afraid for his life, and he shot the teen in the course of being in imminent danger—essentially making the case that the grand jury would be correct in determining Wilson was justified in his action.
CNN’s legal analyst, Paul Callan, yesterday posted a piece on the “hallowed" institution” of the grand jury system “for those who believe that the grand jury procedure is some sort of cop-and-prosecutor conspiracy to trample the rights of minority citizens.”
The U.S. Justice Department, conducting its own investigation into the shooting, has condemned leaks from the grand jury and from other “official” sources. “The department considers the selective release of information in this investigation to be irresponsible and highly troubling,” a spokesman told The Los Angeles Times.
Leid Stories discusses the role of media in undermining, even subverting, the legal process. Sadly, it isn’t a new phenomenon in high-profile, race-based cases.