Saturday, March 08, 2014

CNN "Death Row Stories": How Bad Can A Network Be?

CNN "Death Row Stories": How Bad Can A Network Be?
Dudley Sharp

CNN is presenting a series of death row stories, beginning March 9th, 2014.

Based upon a review of CNN's work, introducing the series, as well as some previous death penalty articles, there are four questions for CNN.

Did CNN decide not to fact check? If so, why?

If CNN did fact check, why didn't you catch all your errors?

Will the series continue with those same standards?

All of this has been sent to  many (16 at this time) CNN producers and reporters and, also, to Redford/Sundance & Jigsaw Productions, the two production companies for "Death Row Stories".

1) The intro video for the series tells us how bad the series could be (1): 

A dream team of anti death penalty folks who can't seem to get anything right.

Kirk Bloodsworth, released from prison, not death row, by DNA exclusion, brings up the 143 "exonerated" from death row. He well knows that there are no 143 exonerated (2), as does Richard Dieter, who created this fraud. I presume that Jeffrey Toobin has fact checked and knows it's a fraud. But he doesn't speak up.

Ms. Banfied, the CNN anchor,  chimes in with a  -  isn't the number 130?

My guess is that the 143 "exonerated" fraud (2) will be repeated again and again, as it has been throughout CNN's intros.

Mr. Toobin states that Mr. Bloodsworth's story,  almost, singlehandedly got rid of the death penalty in Maryland. Nonsense.

Mr. Bloodsworth was on death row for two years and was never at risk of execution. The facts are that after 20 years on death row, no Maryland murderers are at any risk of facing the sanction given. Mr. Bloodsworth's sentence was commuted to life, whereby nearly 7 years later he was excluded by DNA and released.

What has gotten rid of the death penalty in the 5 state legislatures that have, recently, so voted, are that they had a Democratic Governor, with a Democratic majority legislature, in each case, voting against the will of the people, a majority of whom supported the death penalty. Illinois and New Jersey voted repeal during lame duck sessions.  New York's death penalty law was voided by a state court.

There are, currently, three states with an execution moratorium, established by one person in each of those states - the Democratic Governor.

Mr. Toobin, as CNN, are aware of all of those facts. Aren't they? Did you miss the pattern?

Mr. Toobin seems to think that this exoneration fraud has so infested the media that some jurors can't help but be affected by it and that such has contributed to the reduction in death sentences. 

There is little doubt that reinforced frauds can have an influence, but there is no evidence that the exoneration fraud has so affected jurors.

The facts are that there is a 99.6% accuracy rate in actually guilty findings in death penalty cases, with the 0.4% actually innocent going free (2). It may be the most accurate sanction in the US, with, no surprise, the greatest of due process protections (3). 

Wouldn't that give jurors more confidence in considering a death sentence?

Or is Mr. Toobin confident that this exoneration fraud will get more acceptance, as opposed to it being exposed and corrected? Mr. Toobin?

The lack of fact checking and balance by CNN is astounding.  Will it continue?

The fraud of these "exonerations" has been well known for over a decade, indicating that CNN may have willfully and blindly accepted story lines with an anti death penalty bias, a presumption supported by other statements in the intros and other reports, by CNN.  

2)  CNN:  Another Horrendous Intro (4) for "Death Row Stories".

Maybe CNN should fact check?  We have this jewel:

"Upwards of 10% of all death row prisoners are later exonerated for the crimes," writes author and historian Thomas Cahill (4).

That would be "upwards" of 840 "exonerated" inmates, since 1976.

The real number is somewhere between 24-44, or 0.4% (2)

Even the horrendous Death Penalty Information Center puts it at "just" 143, or 1.7% (2)

3) CNN states (5):

A) At sidebar

35 -- Percent of executed defendants who were white
56 -- Percent of executed defendants who were black
138 -- Death row exonerations since 1973

They reversed it. Terrible.

Reality. 35% of those executed were black, 56% white (6). Today, it's 34% black, 56% white.

CNN, most likely, doesn't know that white murders are twice as likely to be executed as are black murderers (6).

The 138 (now 143)  "exoneration" is a blatant fraud, well known for over a decade, if CNN cared to fact check. They didn't, we can hope.

The real number is somewhere between 24-44 (2).

B) In the body of the article (5), we have this:

"There's no denying most Americans are pro-death penalty. " " . . . according to Gallup, . . . Support reached as high as 80% in 1994 and declined to 61% in a poll this month -- the lowest since 1972."

CNN missed better polls that showed 80% & 83% support (6), in the same year as the 61% poll. Support went to 86% in 2013 (7).

C) CNN writes:

"When asked to choose between the death penalty and life in prison, 50% of respondents in a recent CNN/ORC International Poll said they favored a life sentence, compared to 48% who preferred the death penalty."

What CNN doesn't comprehend is that this is a preference poll, not an exclusion poll. Neither death penalty nor life without parole support, all of a sudden, went down to such low levels, or at all. The individual support remains the same (6), likely 80% or so for the death penalty and greater than 90% for a life sentence, or does CNN wish to argue that support for life sentences, suddenly dropped to 50%?

D) From the same article. This is priceless:

"Thousands of people -- including entertainers, dignitaries, Amnesty International and the pope -- denounced the execution of Troy Davis. Some said they believed Davis was innocent in the slaying of a Georgia police officer. Others said there was too much doubt to execute him. (The officer's family, like the relatives of many victims, had no qualms about seeing the person convicted of their loved one's murder put to death.)"

"Entertainers"! "Dignitaries"! "Amnesty Intl"!  I think CNN is star struck.

Notice that CNN failed to say what the courts thought?  That is because the facts were that Davis was undeniably guilty (8). CNN, interesting exclusion.

E) The rest of this article is classic anti death penalty material, easily rebutted (8). You would have thought the article was written by Sister Helen Prejean (10).

4) Ohio's agonizing execution of Dennis McGuire (11). Really?

Well, as CNN reports:

"Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire appeared to gasp and convulse for roughly 10 minutes before he died Thursday by lethal injection using a new combination of drugs, reporters who witnessed it said"

"McGuire's "children and daughter-in-law were crying and visibly upset,"

"Watch this video  Witness: Inmate gasped during execution"

"He gasped deeply. It was kind of a rattling, guttural sound. There was kind of a snorting through his nose. A couple of times, he definitely appeared to be choking,"

". . . it is entirely premature to consider this execution protocol to be anything other than a failed, agonizing experiment,"

"CNN's Sonny Hostin said that McGuire's execution will likely spark debate over whether how inmates react to the use of the drugs constitutes cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the U.S. Constitution." 

And we could debate reporting.

How bad is CNN?  What some other reporters revealed (12): 

"State prison records released Monday say McGuire told guards that (McGuire's counsel, Robert) Lowe counseled him to make a show of his death that would, perhaps, lead to abolition of the death penalty. But three accounts from prison officials indicate McGuire refused to put on a display."

"Amy Borror, a spokeswoman for the public defender's office, said all accounts from execution eyewitnesses - which did not include Lowe - indicate McGuire was unconscious at the time he struggled to breathe."

"Medical experts would not comment on Mr. McGuire’s execution or speculate about what he experienced. They agreed that used for surgery, the two drugs would not cause pain."

“By virtue of what they do, they cause unconsciousness, and they inhibit pain,” said Dr. Howard Nearman, professor of anesthesiology at Case Western Reserve University."

As there was no surgery, both drugs were given at overdose levels and both drugs would enhance the effects of the other, of course there was no pain.

Do folks wheeze, snore, move or cough etc. while sleeping? Do those with opiate overdoses wheeze, snore, move, cough, have spasms, etc.? Of course, which is all that happened with McGuire, as some predicted.

The Associate Press witness:

"McGuire was still for almost five minutes, then emitted a loud snort, as if snoring, and continued to make that sound over the next several minutes. He also soundlessly opened and shut his mouth several times as his stomach rose and fell." "A coughing sound was Dennis McGuire’s last apparent movement, at 10:43 a.m. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes later."

No evidence of consciousness or pain.

And the series hasn't even started, yet. 

We can hope that there may be some good news with the fact that "Death Row Stories" is not produced by CNN.

Stay tuned.



1) CNN's "Death Row Stories" Promo, Added on February 11, 2014,

2) Sections 3 & 4 (read the rest, later)
The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy 

3) One example

Texas Death Penalty Procedures

4) Talk with us: America's death penalty under scrutiny
 Join the conversation, iReport CNN, By Thom Patterson, CNN, March 4, 2014

5) "Death Rows Unlikely Opponents", CNN, 2011 


7) US Death Penalty Support at 80%: World Support Remains High
95% of Murder Victim's Family Members Support Death Penalty 

8)  Section 10) "Troy Davis & The Innocent Frauds of the anti death penalty lobby", Footnote 2, above

9)  New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming 

10) Sister Helen Prejean: A Critical Review 

11) "Controversial execution in Ohio uses new drug combination", By Dana Ford and Ashley Fantz, CNN, Fri January 17, 2014

12) "The (imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution"