Thursday, January 18, 2007

Oprah Should Be Ashamed

This has nothing to do with Iraq. Or illegal wiretapping. It has nothing to do with the Hillary or Obama conundrum. Or McCain vs. Rudy.

It has to do with Oprah Winfrey.

And it tells you all you need to know about what is wrong with American media coverage.

Oprah gets the dirt

According to AP, and Winfrey has to be thrilled with her scoop, the mother and stepfather of apparent kidnap victim Shawn Hornbeck speculated, on Oprah's show, that their son had been sexually abused during his 4 years with suspect Michael Devlin.

Craig & Pam Akers say that "they have not asked their son what happened on the advice of child advocacy experts." Yet, they see nothing wrong with then suggesting, on national television, that he was indeed, molested.

Here is how the exchange was described:
"OK, I'm going to go there and ask you, what do you think happened? Do you think he was sexually abused?" Winfrey asked Craig and Pam Akers, parents of 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck.

Both nodded and said, "Yes."
What on earth was the point of that exchange? For whose edification was it done? The titillation of the viewers?

Did anybody consider what that boy must be feeling to have that media molestation forced upon him?

The answer is that this boy was the last person anybody considered.

Questions I would like to see answered

As for Mr. & Mrs. Akers...

Do you think they asked their son if he wanted that to be trotted out for public consumption?

What 15-year old, whose identity is very well known, would want to be made a spectacle of in this way?

Have the parents, who were told that they shouldn't even discuss the topic with Shawn, considered what sort of damage they were doing by making this statement on Oprah's show?

Did Oprah consider the consequences of her question? Or was it sweeps week?

Blood money

I would really love to know what Oprah's people paid for their exclusive.

And I am wondering if everybody feels that they have gotten their money's worth.


Anonymous said...

Fucking A I agree.

Anonymous said...

No offence, but at this point is there anyone who doesnt know this boy was molested? The charges will be filed soon enough.

gerbear said...

Wow, scootmandubious, it is a sincere pleasure to get introduced to you via your comment at huffpo. There was a lot more I wanted to say there, but held back for some reason. For example, I don't want only to focus on the pathological aspects, and it may be that the boy and his family will come to have healthy relationships, but I am so heartbroken for the kid. It should be completely obvious that this is an extremely complicated time for this teenager. While I criticize media for endless speculation, I will go so far (in the speculative domain) to say that I think it's highly likely that this is a very confusing time for this kid. I wonder what it must feel like for him to know his parents chose to go on the Oprah show to discuss his experience (before he's talked about it with them), whether he ever watches the show or not. Undoubtedly this is also a very complicated time for the parents (which is why my rage is directed to Oprah and the wider media culture alone), but I just think he deserves an unequivocal, unambiguous, unapologetic show of support for their son. Restoring trust in adults is likely to be a significant challenge for this young man, and I can't help but wonder whether this Oprah episode may damage that process.

As soon as I have more time, I look forward to exploring your blog, but right now it feels very gratifying to have a kindred spirit. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

First of all. Being from the area where the Akers are from, They would have NEVER went on Oprah with out Shawns approval. I think the media needs to leave this family alone. oprah shaould have never asked the Akers if they thought he was sexually molested. I think that was pretty self explained when Shawn made the statement about Ben.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the comment above me...How do you know they would Never go on television without the kids approval just because you're from the same area???? Do you know the Akers's personally? Thats ridiculous!

Steve Talbert said...

What I think is pretty ridiculous about the comments above, is that that anonymous person is all over the place in terms of what he (she?) feels about the issue.