In these pages, I’ve emphasized that mainstream news often fails to follow up on their own stories.
They publish a shocking account of a scandal, and then they drop it like a hot potato.
Why? There are several reasons, but the most important is: the scandal is too revealing. It indicts an institution or organization that, in the long run, must be protected.
In 2014-15, stories appeared in the press about the phenomenal corruption of the FBI evidence lab. But since then, there has been very little follow-up. I find no compelling evidence that the federal government has fixed the problem.
Here is a sample of the 2014-15 stories:
April 20, 2015, The Atlantic: “…the Washington Post made clear Saturday in an article that begins with a punch to the gut… ‘Nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000,’ the newspaper reported, adding that ‘the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death’.”
August 12, 2014, New Scientist: “…the initial results were released of an ongoing review of thousands of criminal cases in which FBI scientists’ testimony may have led to wrongful convictions – including for some people now on death row…[an FBI source states] ’we teach these people [lab techs in training] for two weeks, and they would go back to their laboratories with a certificate of completion and be told: Great you’re qualified to do this [analysis of evidence] – here’s your caseload.’”
Washington Post, April 18, 2015: “The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.”
“Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.”
“The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.”
Giant long-term scandal and corruption. The story is covered. Then it disappears.
Here is one reason why. If the press outlets continued to search out every aspect of the story, they would come upon numerous prosecutors who routinely relied on false FBI lab reports in trials. Some of those prosecutors would be exposed for knowingly accepting fake evidence from the FBI, in order to make their cases.
The scandal would spread like ink on a blotter.
Major media news picks their spots. They choose to pound on certain stories day after day, in an effort to convince the public of certain “facts.” They studiously refuse to dig and keep digging on other stories, hoping the public will forget.
Remember this, forget that.
Journalism schools don’t teach their students that this is the way to do news. After graduating and finding jobs, young reporters catch on.
They catch on and go along.
That’s how their ideals crumble and disintegrate.
That’s how they become agents and blunt weapons for their bosses.
That’s how they become alcoholics and denizens traveling through a dim underworld of lies.