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Some Media Progress in Willingham

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For some time, there has been widespread reporting of half-truths in the news media, old and new, on the Cameron Todd Willingham matter.  The claim that Texas has definitely executed an innocent man has been the standard script, repeated uncritically all over by people who read one magazine article and printed its spin as the truth without further checking.  The little Corsicana Daily Sun was regularly saying wait a minute -- there is lots of evidence he was guilty, untouched by the forensic issues.  Occasionally a glimmer of light would also emerge from another source, but mostly the spin of the Innocence Project et al. ruled the day.

The cracks in the edifice seem to be increasing now. Matt Smith of CNN has this article featuring Stacy Kuykendall and closing with the observation, "Corsicana authorities have said that evidence beyond the testimony of state fire marshals supported Willingham's conviction."  The anti-DP blog Grits for Breakfast now says that whether Willingham was actually innocent is not the important question. It is a sure sign that the other side knows it is losing on a question when they say it is not the important question.

But all is not rosy yet.   Newsweek has this article by Jonathan Alter that appears to have been written by simply accepting the New Yorker version without further investigation.   The Connecticut Post has this column by MariAn Gail Brown, repeating David Grann's intentionally misleading half-truth on Willingham's last words, previously exposed here.

PBS has a documentary airing Tuesday, October 19. We won't know until we see it, of course, but from the press release it doesn't look good.

2 Comments

If I recall correctly, Roger Keith Coleman's last words were virtually identical to those Willingham is said to have uttered.

And while I'm at it, was it Time or Newsweek that ran a front cover story strongly suggesting Coleman's innocence?

By the way, Newsweek was sold recently by the Washington Post, which had owned it for almost 50 years, to a 92 year-old investor for the grand sum of one dollar.

It was Time.

The investor paid $1 cash and assumption of the debt. This was widely considered to be an unwise purchase.

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