Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ashley Smith

I'm on the road this week, hence the light blogging.

Quick question: remember Ashley Smith, the woman who was abducted by a serial killer, but was released after his heart was touched by her spirit. She cooked him breakfast, talked about her daughter, and read him portions of Rick Warren's A Purpose Driven Life.

Well at the CBS New Blog, Public Eye, they write:

Maybe Nichols let her go because of what she said about her daughter. Maybe he let her go because of what she read from Warren’s book. Maybe he let her go because she gave him crystal meth. We’ll likely never know the answer with certainty. (my italics)

Yep. Smith didn't tell the public that not only did she read Warren's book to Nichols, but she gave him some of her crystal meth!

Ignoring for a minute the irony of CBS News dealing with journalistic integrity and ethics, they ask some good questions:

The question is, when presented with stories like this that are so clearly engaging, when the characters fit so perfectly into the profiles that make a story interesting -- or inspiring -- do reporters stop asking the important questions, leaving potentially important details behind? If a reporter had somehow uncovered Smith’s recent disclosure back in March, would that have changed the story’s angle? Probably. Smith’s account might have been discredited, or at least questioned more than it was at the time. She might have never had that book deal.

Many stories that seem simple at first almost always end up being far more complicated. What seems like a perfect story is likely full of all kinds of messy complications that don’t fit in with the narrative, because it’s not just a story – it is real life.

Not unrelated to these questions, Jonah Goldberg looks at the exagerrations and rumors propagated by the media in the last few weeks as the hurricanes hit.