October 14 , 2009

Column 48  

I try to avoid talking about other prisoners here on Death Row. The main reason for this is because I don’t feel comfortable doing so. However I do want to talk about the ‘media’ and in doing so, I will have to refer to other prisoners here on the Row.

The focus of this conversation is the news media, so I will try to be intentionally vague when talking about others here. I do want to talk about the media telling lies about a prisoner here. I had asked the man, who the media had printed lies about, if I could mention him by name. He said ‘no’ and I will respect that. He has been the target of a lot of yellow journalism and there have been a lot of people who have tried to exploit him, so I understand his saying no.

I had only recently heard about this, so I am not sure of the times involved in these incidents. When a man with a high profile case arrived here at San Quentin, one of the prisoners (on the Row) decided to exploit this guys exposure in the media and try to make some money off it. He contacted the tabloid media and sold them all these made up storied about having sexual relations with this guy and making this guy his prison bitch or punk. All of these stories were fabricated. The things this prisoner told the tabloid were factually impossible for it to have happened.
The tabloid (is there really any difference between the tabloid and mainstream these days?) didn’t check or didn’t care to check the facts and ran these stories as if they were true. None of it was true. In fact what this prisoner was selling to the media was physically and logistically impossible for it to have happened. It seems the media (both tabloid and mainstream) are always looking for their next boogieman to present to the viewers or readers.

Recently there was a story about a poor girl who was kidnapped and held prisoner for 18 years. The local (san Francisco) broadcast media would have the majority of their newscast about this story. This is while the healthcare debate and budget crisis should have been the most important news for the public. Instead the local media and one TV channel in particular would have 70% of its newscast all about this poor girl and the couple who were arrested as a result. They would show the same story over and over again.

When a story (no matter how tragic) effects only a handful of people, but pushes the real news which effects all Americans, dominates the news for weeks on end, it is no wonder things have gotten so disconnected in our country. Our irresponsible news media has replaces relevant and important news with sensational and titillating tabloid news instead. People should be outraged and offended by what the news has become. It is as if they think you are too stupid to care about things that really matter.

It would be nice if the news media put as much time and effort into doing stories about the prison overcrowding and draconian sentencing laws. Or maybe about how the Governor (Arnie) has cut funding for educating students in the public schools and Universities, as well as care for the elderly and health services. The very next day he approved almost $300 million to build a brand new death row. $300 million is the projected costs, but we all know the costs will be much higher then that. It shows where the Governments priorities are though.

Okay that is it for this one, feel free to drop a line if you like.
All the best to you.
Dean Carter

p.o. box C-97919
San Quentin Prison
San Quentin, California 94974