Should Press Protect Privacy of Duke Lacrosse Players Accused of Rape?

The following is a transcription of the April 22, 2006 edition of "FOX News Watch", that has been edited for clarity:

ERIC BURNS, HOST: It's time now for our "Quick Takes on the Media."

Headline No. 1: "Fairness or Double Standard?"

Duke lacrosse players Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were arrested for rape this week. We know their names. We do not know the name of the woman who has accused them.

Fairness or double standard, Neal?

NEAL GABLER, MEDIA WRITER: No, it's fair. Because as a matter of public policy, we withhold the names of victims so that they will come forward. There is no comparable public policy interest in withholding the names of the accused. They are presumed innocent, they will have their day in court. These guys particularly, being rich and white, will have their day in court. So there is no comparable public policy issue.

CAL THOMAS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I don't agree, because as we have seen in previous cases, women can lie. And we don't know if that was not the case in this case. The men's names are out there. You get immediately branded with this. And I think it can hurt your career and your reputation, even if you're exonerated.

JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Well, and their defense attorneys say they have a lot of defense.

I think it's unfortunate that we're focusing on the rich-kid aspect. And you can look up how much their homes are worth, and they're from Long Island and all of that stuff. I think unfortunately, there's a stigma associated with rape, even if you were raped, and you do not out an alleged rape victim.

JIM PINKERTON, NEWSDAY COLUMNIST: And Neal's already pushing them toward them slammer by calling them rich and white, which is a signal to the jury what they're supposed — what they're supposed to do.

BURNS: Should we know her name, Jim?

PINKERTON: I would respect her name. I would also be very inclined to respect their names, in terms of keeping them private, too. Especially since there's not even...


PINKERTON: There's not even proof there's a crime. It's one thing if there's a dead body. If there's just an allegation, it's different.

BURNS: "Quick Take" Headline No. 2: "Should His Papers Rest in Peace, Too?"

The FBI wants to look through the papers of the late muckraking columnist Jack Anderson. It wants to retrieve any documents marked "secret" or "confidential." The family wants the FBI to get lost! Says the columnist's son Kevin, Anderson — and this is a quote — "...would be rolling over in his grave to think that the FBI was going to go crawling through his papers willy-nilly."

If he could "roll over in his grave," is that true? Would he be? Jim, should he be?

PINKERTON: I think so. And I think that — look, Jack Anderson has not been involved in real journalism for 20 years. I mean, he was sick before he died. I think this is some grudge in the FBI and it's harassment, and nothing more.

HALL: It's a fishing expedition, and to show up on the doorstep of the professor who's — who's the biographer, asking about what graduate students have seen in these files is, I think, anybody's definition of overly broad. I mean, there is something at work here. We should be paying more attention to the War on Terror and not going through 1980 files by a journalist.

BURNS: If Jim's right, Cal, and it's harassment, you don't harass a dead man!

THOMAS: No, but I think...

BURNS: Who's being harassed?

THOMAS: The same First Amendment that protected Jack Anderson's right to acquire and to write about these documents, still prevails in my view. And I think Jim is right, it is a fishing expedition.

BURNS: Maybe a broader point than just directed toward Jack Anderson, since he is no longer with us, Neal? Maybe a point about the media in general?

GABLER: Well, I think the interesting question here for me is, Is this authorized by the FBI, or is it authorized by the Bush administration? If it's authorized by the Bush administration, then it really is a form of intimidating the press. If it's just by the FBI, they're just on some sort of crazy, wild goose chase.

BURNS: And what if they happen to be looking for some specific piece of information, and have information that indicates that they're...


PINKERTON: Jack Anderson made a lot of enemies in his career. I guarantee you there's somebody who's sitting there, saying, Here's one chance to really stick it to him, even from the grave.

GABLER: Yes, they don't have that, because the family asked them to narrow their search, and they would not do so.

HALL: Or I did something that embarrassed me. That's often what's at work here.

BURNS: "Quick Take" Headline No. 3: "Katie and Bob?"

Bob Schieffer might not be leaving "The CBS Evening News" after all. The network has offered him the chance to do commentary once or twice a week after Katie Couric takes over as anchor in September. Schieffer says he's thinking about it.

Been a long time, Jane, since on the network evening newscasts anybody did commentary.

HALL: You know, I was thinking — I mean, Eric Sevareid did it many years ago.

BURNS: John Chancellor for a brief time. Yes.

Is it a good idea in what is essentially a 20-minute news program, to wedge in some commentary?

HALL: Well, you know, I don't think it's a bad idea. It depends on what they do with the rest of the newscast. Schieffer recruited himself very well in this job. He's been around forever. He's entitled to comment, and I think it might be interesting.

PINKERTON: I got to tell you, when he said to Allure magazine about Lara Logan — quote — "we'd hire her even if she looked like Andy Rooney" — unquote. Now that's, strictly speaking, not a true statement. And I think you ought to be more careful when you say things in public as a journalist about saying things that aren't true.

BURNS: Lara Logan being a very pretty CBS News correspondent...

GABLER: And a good reporter as well.


THOMAS: If the networks really want to tap into that demographic that has gone to cable and talk radio, yes, do commentary. But have a recognized conservative on to balance the others.

HALL: Would he be wearing a yellow shirt?

BURNS: Good point?

GABLER: No. No. Bad point, because — I'll tell you why it's a bad idea to have commentary on the network news: because no one will ever say anything for fear of offending the audience. That's why they call it "broadcast" news.

I like Schieffer. But he's going to be as pallid as Eric Sevareid was, as Chancellor was, as Howard Smith was.

HALL: And they did — they did that thing with Clinton and Dole that didn't work on "60 Minutes." It was dull.

BURNS: Well, we're not!

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