The Little Rock Film Festival featured a panel discussion called “The Media and the West Memphis Three”, and the Arkansas Times ran a puff piece about the event. The usual pro-WM3 propagandists were on stage, no skeptics allowed.
The discussion featured Joe Berlinger (director of the “Paradise Lost” films), Mara Leveritt (author of the book “Devil’s Knot”), Capi Peck (founding member of the WM3 advocacy group Arkansas Take Action) and Lorri Davis (wife of Damien Echols). Panelists touched on a number of issues including early news coverage of the case (would you believe most media outlets were a little biased against the WM3?), the reaction to the “Paradise Lost” documentaries here in Arkansas and the movement that has built up around the case over the years.
Wow, can you believe that media outlets were biased against guys who raped, tortured and murdered eight-year-olds?!? Unlike sophisticated thinkers like us who consider them heroes!
Maybe the “bias” accusation means that journalists in 1993-94 did not demonstrate proper journalistic objectivity, balance, fact-checking, etc. in covering the case. If so, the accusation is groundless. Don’t take my word for it, feel free to browse the West Memphis Evening Times and Memphis Commercial Appeal archives for yourself. You won’t find the deceitful “free the killers” advocacy journalism spread by Berlinger, Leveritt, et al, years later, but you won’t find any “forget the trial, lock up these Metallica-loving freaks” bias either, just ordinary bland local news.
Modern media coverage is a different story. The mainstream media now routinely parrots the “free the WM3” line, ignoring or distorting the overwhelming evidence that Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were guilty as charged.
- In 2007, Larry King did a softball prison interview with Damien Echols. (“We are back with Damien Echols. The three boys who were killed, you didn’t know them, you weren’t anywhere near there. So why you?”)
- In 2010, Larry King hosted Echols’ murder groupie wife and celebrity dupes Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines for another hour of “Free the WM3” propaganda.
- Also in 2010, 48 Hours Mystery ran an hour-long pro-WM3 infomercial starring Johnny Depp called “A Cry for Innocence”.
- In January 2011, CNN ran an hour-long documentary about the case unsubtly titled “Presumed Guilty: Murder in West Memphis”. (Get it? In America you’re supposed to be presumed innocent, but these poor goth kids were presumed guilty instead!)
- And in May 2011, True Crime with Aphrodite Jones rehashed the standard “railroaded because they wore black and liked heavy metal” line and did a frame job on the pro-WM3 crowd’s latest SODDI target, Terry Hobbs.
And of course, the Arkansas Times article quoted above, the one with the snide quip about media bias, makes no acknowledgment of the case against the West Memphis 3.
Mainstream media coverage of the West Memphis 3 is most definitely biased — in favor of the killers.