Sunday, 18 October 2009

Corsicana Sun hyping bogus Willingham 'confession' shames paper, state

Locals in Corsicana are circling the wagons on the Todd Willingham case, and they've enlisted the enthusiastic assistance of the local newspaper, The Corsicana Sun, to their cause. It's hard not to conclude the paper is embarrassing itself, their town and the state with ignorant, hyperdefensive attempts to counter conclusions by arson experts in the Todd Willingham case. (Indeed, I find such bad reporting nearly as noxious as Willingham's turncoat defense attorney, who Anderson Cooper said sounded more like a Sheriff in the case than a defense lawyer.)

Virtually everything the Sun publishes about Todd Willingham comes off as a parochial, naive, one-sided defense against recent challenges to the forensics presented at trial. I have no beef with advocacy journalism, so part of me thinks that the Sun adopting that role could serve a productive function. But in practice, they frequently allow local sources to make demonstrably inaccurate claims without contradiction. It's like they fantasize their readers won't also see coverage from the Dallas News or CNN, so they can just ignore widely reported facts instead of confront them.

The one that put it over the top for me came this week in a story titled "Affidavits dispute claims of innocence," in which the Sun published a five-year old affidavit based on disputed hearsay:

Stacy gave an interview to the Corsicana Daily Sun on February 8, 2004—the very day that Ronnie Kuykendall claimed Stacy had told him that Willingham had confessed. In the interview, she said that during her visit with Willingham he maintained that the fire was accidental and that their daughter Amber had likely caused it
So again, why disbelieve your own reporter, who talked to Ms. Kuykendall immediately after the conversation, and then present as some sort of new facts this old hearsay from her brother? If Grann can dig that story up from the Sun's own online archives, so can they.

There's lots more to talk about on this case than I have time to focus on, but the MSM and blogosphere are buzzing about it. If you're looking for more, Steve Hall at the Stand Down Project is pretty constantly rounding up coverage. Also check out:


1 comment:

dudleysharp said...

Hey Hilde:

from Dudley Sharp

"Stacy Kuykendall's statement about the 1991 fire", Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10.25/09

"Stacy Kuykendall, the ex-wife of Cameron Todd Willingham, offers her first detailed account of the 1991 fire that claimed the lives of her three daughters and led to Willingham’s execution in 2004.

“Todd set our house on fire then stood outside and watched it burn,” Kuykendall asserts, saying she agrees with Gov. Rick Perry’s portrayal of her husband as “a monster.” "

"(Reporters) Mills, Possley (of the Chicago Tribune) and Grann (of the New Yorker) have all come to my home uninvited to ask me questions about my ex-husband. I told them all that I no longer believe that Todd was innocent, that he did murder my daughters and I did not want to talk about that which had to deal with him."

"Before Todd was executed he confessed to his family that he never went into the twins room at all to try and save them, that he had lied about it. Actually, he stood outside of our home as the house engulfed in flames knowing his three daughters were inside."

"Todd set our house on fire then stood outside and watched it burn. He knew our three daughters were inside this home taking there last breath. He watched them die."

statement from Stacy Kuykendall, then wife to Cameron Todd Willingham and mother to Amber Louise, Karmon Diane and Kameron Marie.