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It's, like, all way totally too much

 


Two words in seven minutes. That's it. That's all.

No, we're not talking about the last time I had a date, or the pace at which I write this column.

No, two words in seven minutes would roughly describe what took place at the initial court appearance of Kobe Bryant in Eagle, Colo.

For all the hype, the media coverage, the constant legal analysis, all we got was two words in seven minutes.

They weren't even big words. Kobe didn't holler "brobdingnagian prestidigitation" (gigantic slight of hand) or "sesquipedalian circumlocution" (using many syllables and many words to express an idea).

They weren't profound words. Kobe didn't say "conspiracy theory" or "I'm innocent."

No, the two words totaled two syllables. "No, sir," Kobe said in a voice just above a murmur as he answered the judge's question asking if he objected to the Oct. 9 court date. By not objecting, Kobe basically waived his right to a preliminary hearing within in thirty days.

That's it? "No, sir"? It seems pretty insignificant in comparison to the circus that accompanied Wednesday's proceedings.

And I am not being facetious when I say circus. First there was the media contingent that was roughly the size of an army battalion. According to reports, almost 400 members of the media accompanied by a regiment of satellite news trucks, news vans and tents set up camp across from the court house.

No, the tents weren't described as big tops, or did 74 news anchors crawl out of one media van at once. But their presence gave it a Barnum and Bailey quality. How do you know when the media coverage has reached carnival proportions? Two more words - Access Hollywood.

When such bastions of television journalism like Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, Celebrity Justice and Entertainment Tonight have people on site, then you might as well plop a bear on a little bike, or break out the lions and fiery hoops, because all levity and credibility are on the cutting room floor.

But tabloid news shows aren't only to blame in this debacle, ESPN decided to run nearly an entire Sportscenter devoted to the initial appearance. The show featured the live seven minute hearing followed by approximately 45 minutes of analysis.

I watched the entire seven minutes, followed by about five minutes of analysis, until I realized that it was five minutes of my life I would never get back and quickly changed the show to some real drama - Elimidate.

In that five minutes, they dissected everything from why Kobe wore what he wore - a cream colored suit, no tie - to the physical reaction of him and his legal team. I didn't see it, but I think they analyzed the size of the judge's gavel and what he wore as well.

The whole coverage flew past excess and landed somewhere near overkill.

And then there were the 100 or so non-media people outside the courthouse. You'd recognize them because they were wearing Kobe jerseys and other Los Angeles Lakers attire. Some chose to write "Kobe's innocent" on their head in magic marker (hopefully permanent) while others held up signs with catchy sayings including, "I need two tickets."

When Kobe walked in and out of the courthouse, the group of fans cheered and screamed as if he just dunked in traffic or sank a three-pointer. My initial thought was that there must be a lot of unemployed Kobe fans in Eagle.

And of course, the television media, being the bearer of ethics and credibility that it is, chose to interview these people. The responses were to be expected.

"There's no way he did it," yelled one gentleman in a Kobe jersey and his face covered in marker. "She's just in it for the money. They're all in it for the money."

The logical thing by the interviewer would have been to remind this buffoon, that there actually is no money involved in this case since it's a criminal case, not a civil case. And who said that smelling enough magic marker won't make you a little goofy?

"He's so hot and he's an awesome basketball player. Like, there's no way he raped that girl," cried one teenage girl.

And like, somewhere in Montana you could hear me crying.

Because this is what we have to deal with in the coming months. The coverage, the scrutiny, the interviewing of the accuser's so-called friends, legal analysts crawling out of their caves where they've been hiding since O.J.'s murder trial, it will be non-stop.

Why? Because it's the news story of the moment and until something bigger comes along to remove it, we're stuck with it kind of like Dr. Phil.

This whole thing has become, like actor Ashton Kutcher, no matter how annoying and mundane it seems, it isn't going to away for some time.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was partially right in his comments about this case in saying that society has become infatuated with reality entertainment. What is more real that a person on trial?

And as journalists, we have some responsibility to cover it, because it is what people are interested in. And because of the need for readership and ratings, the coverage has already turned into a competition.

The other day one of the tabloid shows had the accuser's cousin's best friend's roommate's girlfriend being asked her opinion about the accuser.

"Like, she's totally messed up," was her summation. I can hear the Pulitzer prize people calling right now.

There is a fine line that we must walk when covering this. Does the opinion of a guy that sat next to this girl in fourth grade matter? Do we need to analyze what Kobe is wearing or what the effect of him appearing at Nickelodeon's Teen Choice Award mean to the overall public perception? We're well past the point of beating a dead horse, we're beating at its bones.

But I make a promise to you. Until Oct. 9, unless something major happens, i.e. the case being dropped or the accuser speaking in public, I will not write about the trial of the State of Colorado versus Kobe Bean Bryant. Not 10 words, not two words, not a single word. There will be plenty of other places to get your Kobe fix, namely every news network on the planet. There's too many more important things, such as the beginning of football and volleyball, to keep me busy.

So no writing about Kobe for awhile, because like one of the girls in Colorado would say...

"It's, like, all way totally too much."

 

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