Guilty 'til Proven Innocent?

The other night when I appeared on my friend Bill O'Reilly's show, the subject was the Enron trial.

I said simply, "innocent until proven guilty."

Bill pounced — something to the effect of they're guilty as sin.

They might very well be.

I'm just increasingly nervous in this society we assume guilty as fact and the notion of innocent as fiction.

Barry Bonds comes to mind. There's a new explosive book out that its authors contend offers undeniable proof the guy was shooting up steroids for years. We now accept that as gospel.

Countless sports columnists that I've been reading say pretty much the same thing: Barry's a bum, Barry's damaged goods — as if it's undeniable.

All I'm asking is what if it is deniable?

You know, years ago, the media chased Ronald Reagan's labor secretary for a variety of alleged improprieties, convinced he was a poster child for crooked politicians.

All those stories were page one. His complete and total exoneration was buried.

His name was Raymond Donovan.

I mentioned recently his lament to the press at the time: "Now, where do I get my reputation back?"

It's hard, especially when everyone has assumed you're the devil. Bad opinions stick.

All I know is that I'd rather be given the benefit of the doubt, than doubt I had any benefits to show at all.

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