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Ripping Apart KNBCs Death Sentence Poll

by more rational Tuesday, Feb. 03, 2004 at 12:31 PM

The URL for the Kevin Cooper execution poll has been making the rounds of the lists. Go and vote against it if you feel this is important. Yers truly will now rip into the loads of bias written into the story and the poll.

KNBC's coverate of the Kevin Cooper trial on its site is totally biased to support the execution of a man without a full evaluation of the available evidence. This "trial by media" is more blatant than either the OJ or MJ trials, both total media circuses. (Circii?) Here's a breakdown of quotes from the site, with comments.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied clemency Friday to an escaped felon who went on a killing spree, stabbing and hacking four victims with a buck knife and hatchet. This wording presumes guilt. They didn't even slip the word "alleged" before "killing spree." The case had drawn nationwide attention because Cooper's family members believed key evidence had not been considered, but Schwarzenegger said the case had been fully evaluated. It was also the new Republican governor's first death penalty case and clears the way for Cooper's scheduled execution on Feb. 10. The point about evidence is not even given a full sentence, much less a complete exposition, before it's dismissal by the governor is used to undermine the point of the objections. Maintaining his innocence during 18 years of appeals, Cooper succeeded in having DNA tests done on evidence at the scene, but the tests indicated he was the killer. Now he says those tests were tainted and incomplete and wants new tests. State prosecutors, however, and now the governor, said they were not necessary. Again, the point behind the objections is couched in statements that presume the guilt of Cooper. Robert Amidon, one of Cooper's attorneys, has said there is enough doubt about the evidence to warrant another look. "There is no bringing back the dead," Amidon said. Amidon's quote is interesting, because it has dual interpretations. First, as an ominous warning about making erroneous judgments. Second, it argues the reverse, it's a reminder that if this execution proceeds on time, the possible innocence of Cooper will not be "brought back from the dead."

The rest of the article isn't quite so biased, but uses celebrities arguing against his execution, rather than experts. Nothing is mentioned about the racial biases of who is convicted and executed, despite the fact most of the celebrities named are Black.

Finally, there's a problem with the wording of the poll question. Instead of simply asking if Keven Cooper should be granted clemency for now, it states "Do you agree with Gov. Schwarzenegger's decision to deny clemency to Kevin Cooper?" It has both "agree" and "deny" in it, and that can confuse. Besides, it doesn't get to the real question: "Should the evidence be re-tested?"

KNBC will probably never see this, but if they do -- please don't be such toadys for Arnold.

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