At the Media Violence Project, our charter is to protect public safety by researching, documenting and raising awareness about the ever-increasing wave of violent, disgusting crimes perpetrated by members of the American news media. It is a largely thankless task -- often requiring a cast iron stomach -- but if our work has prevented one more American child from falling victim to a criminally insane anchorman or newspaper reporter, it will all have been worth it.
Unfortunately, it now appears that these are the exceptions that prove the rule. In the two years since the MVP issued our first report, another tidal wave of media-related bizarre or violent crimes has come to light, each more shocking than the last. Like CNN reporter Richard Quest, arrested in New York's Central Park in 2008 brandishing a noose or ABC Miami reporter Jeffrey Weinsier, charged with entering a school with a firearm. Or New Hampshire Union Leader sports writer Kevin Provencher, charged withoperating a prostitution ring. It is unknown whether Provencher's alleged activities were related to WABC New York sports anchor Marvell Scott, who was arrested earlier this year for allegedly raping a 14-year old prostitute. It is also unclear whether this Granite State "mack daddy" used a "strong pimp hand" with his "bitches," but he might have shared tips and techniques with fellow journalists like Jason Scott Kidd, charged in 2009 with hitting a woman in the face at a Mexican restaurant, Gawker editor Richard "Date Rape Tips" Blakely, arrested for domestic violence, or Boise anchorman andalleged wife beater David Tester.
Often the journalist reacts with petty violence, like animal cruelty, but he or she can quickly graduate to more serious crimes like criminal trespass, theft, extortion, andarson. Some reporters seek release from violent urges through sex crimes likeassaulting hypnotized women, window peeping or public masturbation or bondage acts with underage prostitutes, but with little long term effect. Often the journalist will seek to slake his thirst for violence though bar fights or scuffling with police officers or kicking elderly people in laundromats. The brutality soon moves inside the home, in forms likechild abandonment and spousal abuse including beatings and throwing scalding water.
These are mere warm ups for what often comes next. Emboldened, the reporter begins packing heat and attempts to bring it into a courtroom, like KDKA Pittsburgh journalist Rob Milford, or join the "Mile High Journalist Assault Club" like Toronto TV anchor Colleen Walsh. Left untreated, he or she graduates to the "big leagues" of journalist crime. Examples include TV anchor Elena Skordelli, charged with arranging a murder hit on her producer, accused terrorist and Al-Jazeera reporter Baltasar Garzon, and alleged murderers like reporter Vlado Taneski, Ray Gosling, and TV anchorman Ted Failon.
In many cases, the violence is self-directed in the form of substance abuse. Wallowing in bitterness and self pity, clinging to his J-school memes, the journalist will seek escape in a fog of drugs and alcohol. This path remains only temporarily victimless as the drunk, drug-addled journalist can no longer resist the urge to get behind the wheel of his car. Television anchormen and anchorwomen seem particularly susceptible to this weakness, with recent arrests including South Bend IN anchor Debra Daniel, Tulsa anchor Jerry Giordano, Chicago anchorman and 2-time DUI loser Walter Jacobsen, Fort Wayne IN anchor Mary Collins, Austin anchor David Scott, Minneapolis anchor Beth McDonough, Mobile AL anchor Bob Solarski, and San Diego anchor Allison Ross. Before you can say "you stay classy, San Diego," the vehicular casualty count begins to skyrocket as innocent bystanders begin falling victim to drunk anchormen like CNN veteran Rick Sanchez and Winston-Salem's Tolly Carr.
As bad as these cases are individually, collectively they represent only the tip of a vast, bloody iceberg of media brutality. Most experts believe that the overwhelming majority of media crimes are never reported. "Think about it," says Egrub. "We are actual relying on reporters to report on the crimes of reporters. All we really know about are the cases other journalists were too incompetent to cover up. For every one of them there are likely dozens lying on the media's cutting room floor."