Jonesboro is in the national news now thanks to the bizarre death of Chavis Carter, who after having been searched twice by police and was being detained in the backseat of a vehicle with his hands cuffed behind his head is somehow supposed to have pulled out a gun that wasn’t found in either of the two searches out of his pants and shot himself with it with his hands cuffed behind him. It’s hard to say exactly what has happened here just yet and an investigation is ongoing.
Earlier today I put up a post on KAIT anchorman Craig Rickert using a fan facebook page promoting his work as a reporter to advance a ton of right wing rhetoric, much of it inaccurate. As I said in that last post:
The public depends on journalists and news anchors to provide them with accurate, unbiased information. That’s something that’s vital to the functioning of a free society. This stuff crosses a line and calls into question whether Rickert can be trusted to have the journalistic integrity and capability to deliver the news to his viewers and whether or not Kait8 has the ethical and professional standards that should be expected of a serious news organization. If Rickert wants to put his opinion out there, that’s fine! He can become an opinion page writer or a partisan hack blogger like me, Jason Tolbert, and all the rest. But carrying the water for a political party or using his position as a journalist to advance factually inaccurate ideological memes, some of them quite extreme and offensive, is not appropriate or ethical behavior for a reporter. It seriously makes you wonder whether Rickert’s viewers can trust what he says when he delivers the news and, if Kait8 is allowing this stuff, if anything the station is reporting on can be relied on.
Apparently, Kait8 viewers would be wise to question anything Rickert reports on. Within hours of the shooting transpiring, Rickert was telling fans of his facebook page that “they did check the suspect. it’s on tape. he had the gun stuffed very low in his pants.” and “You’d be surprised how flexible people can be. Trust me, nothing suspicious about this.“
Now again, we don’t know what actually happened here yet. I would say that we should all keep an open mind, but truth be told I often find that a skeptical mind is of much more use.
What I would like to know is how Rickert got to see this dash cam footage as, near as I can tell, it’s still being reviewed at this point and I’d be absolutely stunned if the Jonesboro PD let Rickert review it personally so soon after the incident. More likely it seems that he’s just presenting his opinions as facts here.
Again, this with Rickert isn’t a free speech issue-it’s a matter of journalistic integrity. Between this and all the stuff he’s putting out on the page set up to promote his work at KAIT, how can we trust him to deliver accurate, unbiased information? And if KAIT doesn’t so something about this, how can the public rely on them as a news organization?