Freedom of the press and justice --The dilemma in Rodney King’s case Introduction In April 29, 1992, when black people rioted in Los Angeles, they felt angry and unjust. Except that, the biggest confusion in their minds was that why the jury found the four policemen, who were recorded into a 68 seconds videotape that were seriously beating a black people, not guilty. Not just common people, even George Herbert Walker Bush, who was the President of the United States in 1992, had the same feeling. The members of jury were also the ordinary citizens, they knew the same fact like anybody else, what caused them to decide such a verdict? Did what they knew were different from other American people outside the courtroom? In fact, what the defense counsel had showed to the jury were actually a litter bit different from what other people had saw from TV. Now it seemed very easy that either the defense counsel or the mass media lied. However, till today none of them had got any punishment from anywhere. It proved that neither the media nor the defense counsel covered the truth. What was the reason that both of the parties honestly told what had happened in the night of March 2, 1991 to their audiences, however, lead to a totally different responses. The truth was that the videotape played in the courtroom was 13 seconds longer than people usually saw in the TV. It was just the differentiation of these 13 seconds and the wonderful analysis of defense counsel generated the jury's different conclusion. However, the reason why the mass media chose to edited out the 13 seconds was complex. It seems like the press tampered the original evidence and tried to mislead the public through legal means. The traditional view was that the press is one of the critical factors to fight against corruption and to guarantee the social equity. Indeed, they were a important complementarity of the functions of justice. For example, the astonished Watergate scandal was firstly uncovered and persistently followed up by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who were two journalists in The Washington Post. Journalism was more like countless big monitors that put every details of governmental officers under magnifier. These huge pressures they bring to the government organizations would strictly regulate their behaviors. However, sometimes Journalism would overact to this kind of public events due to the reason of constitution privilege and horizontal competition; and at the same time, the court part would also formulate corresponding measures in order to minimize the negative effects come from mass media. Briefly review Rodney King’s case Rodney King, a strong African-American prisoner on parole, drove under the influence of of alcohol and resisted arrest in March 2, 1991. After a long freeway chase, he finally had been encircled by 20 police vehicles and one helicopter. Rodney King still refused to followed order and humiliated policemen. Four well trained policemen or Taser could not brought Rodney King under control. At last, four policemen began to beat him with batons.
- Spring '11
- Mass Media, Separation of Powers, Supreme Court of the United States, Rodney King