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KATIE, HOW COULD YOU?

15 March 2003

There are many wonderful things about the discovery of Elizabeth Smart. The biggest is the obvious: The little girl abducted from her bed, lost for 9 months, is alive and back with her family. Is there anyone in the country (with the exception of her captor) who isn't overjoyed to know that the search has ended on a happy note.

Another wonderful thing is that coverage of Elizabeth's return has pushed all-war-all-the-time off the front pages. I think the entire Today Show yesterday--and most of today--was devoted to Elizabeth's return. Happy news to take the place of gloom and doom, if only briefly.

But with the happy return of this young girl has come the now inevitable media circus.

Circus is too mild. I don't know that there is a word strong enough for what must be going on in and around the Smart home.

Starting with Elizabeth's father, the joy on his face so sincere, politely standing before microphone after microphone being dissected for his feelings, what Elizabeth said, what she did, "how is she doing?" (How would you be doing after being held captive for nine months?) Mr. Smart handled it all with grace, saying over and over again that they were just so happy and grateful to have her back that they didn't want to dwell on what had happened to her.

Still the press pressed. "What has she said?" "What did she go through?"

Every single news report I've seen has left hanging, unsaid, the question that it is so blatantly on every reporter's tongue: "was she sexually abused? Give us all the gory details."

Does it matter? Do we have a right to know that? It's probably a given, but how does that affect my life? And does the media--all pasta-bazillion of them, each asking their questions in turn, have the right to rape this child again and again and again, pressing for answers to questions that should be dealt with in their own time, in privacy of Elizabeth's family, in the privacy of whatever therapist will be helping her to try to adjust to life as it has now changed forever.

In this era of 24 hour-a-day news coverage, all the media is so hungry for ratings that each wants to be the first to break the story--and if they have no story to break, they will dissect the current story to death. And if there is nobody left to interview--if they've already interviewed the parents, the friends, the classmates, the teachers, the neighbors, the paper boy, the child's dentist, and the grocer who used to see the family occasionally--if they've already interviewed every child psychologist and abduction specialist in the country--if they've already assembled all the talking head to speculate about what might have happened to her, then they'll rerun the tapes again. And again. And again.

I can only imagine what it must look like in her neighborhood. Thank God the police have given them some protection and blocked off the street. You can imagine that somewhere there is a helicopter, or two, or six circling, hoping to catch a glimpse of an aunt or a cousin entering the house, which then gives them a new angle--what the relationship is between Elizabeth and that person, and perhaps rerun old interviews of that person pleading for Elizabeth's return.

Too much! Too much! Give me back the war. Let Elizabeth enjoy her first day at home in peace.

I am thinking back to the huge mistake I made when Ned returned from Brasil. He had spent a year living in Rio de Janeiro and we were so excited to see him again, we had all of his friends waiting to meet him. He couldn't handle it. He had to debrief, to adjust to living in this country again. He had a wonderful year, was happy to be home, but still he couldn't handle a few friends showing up.

When I think of that, I try to imagine what this circus must be doing to Elizabeth. She has not had a wonderful 9 months and she's not dealing with a few friends, but the entire world demanding to know every detail of her captivity.

Tell us! Tell us! The world MUST know! Leave nothing out! Strip yourself bare yet again for the world to see!

I think I was most disappointed in Katie Couric this morning, a reporter whom I admire and whom I watch each morning. They had run out of the direct information to dissect and so she was interviewing the family of kidnapper Brian David Mitchell. His ex-wife and his three children. There were the probing questions, mainly "did he physically abuse you?" Over and over again, in various forms. What was the abuse like? How long did it go on? Not one of those four people could make eye contact with the camera, none of them gave information willingly. I felt so sorry for them and, as "gentle" as the questioning was, I was so disappointed in Katie Couric, a woman who has certainly seen her own share of personal tragedy.

Then there was Matt interviewing Patty Hearst--a natural interview, of course. I admired Hearst for stressing again and again the necessity of letting Elizabeth recover in her own time outside the eye of the media.

But as I type this, Katie has just said that next up on the show will be discussing "the emotional and psychological recovery of Elizabeth Smart." Another major segment.

I know it's a news story. But I disagree strongly that the public has the right to know everything. Leave the poor girl alone. Hasn't she been through enough??


wpe23C.jpg (3339 bytes)Thanks for your nomination of Funny the World for a Diarist.net Legacy award, of all things. You can find all the nominees here.

Congratulations to all the other nominees--especially my buddies Haggie and Marn. If you have a journal, support the community and be sure to vote.

Quote of the Day

As I have watched this story unfold, I am very happy about Elizabeth’s safe return. I have watched the reports and I find I have some hard questions for the parents of Elizabeth. I have seen their large expensive house and have wondered why they would hire homeless people to do odd jobs.

~ a Letter to the Editor on the MSNBC web site...
so now the blame shifts to the family

Today's Photo

f_030313_smart_.jpg (12456 bytes)

There she is--home again. 
Now leave her alone.

 

One Year Ago
The Numbers Game
Suddenly the new me (with the weight loss, I suppose I should call the new me "mini me"!) is in competition with the old me and those numbers are really important to me. As I cheer each week with the increasingly decreasing numbers on the scale, so will I begin to pay attention to all the other numbers: the cholesterol, the HDL/LDL ratio, the blood glucose, the blood pressure.

Two Years Ago
Apprentice Hermit
If you’d told me five years ago that I would evolve from an overinvolved schedule to this hermit existence I’ve adopted, I would have found it hard to believe. But, in truth, it’s really OK.!


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Pounds Lost:  71.6
(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

On the Odometer

URL Total 747.5
Blue Angel Total 745.6
2003 YTD Cumulative:  268.9

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