Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sid, Prosecutor Not Worried About Facts Or Ruining Reputations Of Three Minnesota Football Players

In Sid Hartman's Star Tribune column today, the aged sports columnist coaxes Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to talk about an investigation he knows he shouldn't. The victims in this? University of Minnesota football players Alex Daniels, Keith Massey and EJ Jones and the rest of the Gophers football team

It's one thing if Sid was reporting something new, like a conviction, an indictment or even a smoking gun. But he tells us nothing. The players may be turn out to be guilty, but that doesn't excuse Freeman for blabbing to the press about an ongoing investgation. Here's what Sid wrote:

Investigation of players continues
The investigation of three Gophers football players -- Alex Daniels, Keith Massey and E.J. Jones -- is ongoing, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. The three were jailed and released, but not charged, last April in connection with the sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman.

"I can't talk about an ongoing investigation, but you're an old friend and I'll just tell you that we are investigating every angle of this case as thoroughly as it can possibly be done, and we are talking to Gopher football players," Freeman said.

Freeman said he hopes to complete interviews soon with several Gophers
players. Meanwhile, Gophers coach Tim Brewster doesn't know what to do about
the three players, who are innocent until proven guilty.
So, Freeman admits he cannot talk about an ongoing investigation, then proceeds to do exactly that. Why? Because Sid is 94 and they've known each other a long time? Is that a good enough reason to give weak information regarding a criminal investigation to a sensational reporter?

If Freeman has something to report, like actual charges, then by all means call a press conference. Until then, he needs to keep his mouth shut.

As a reporter by day, I understand Sid's temptation. He probably feels giving an update on this is solid reporting. But it's the opposite. For starters, Sid shows his narcissism by throwing in the quote, "but you're an old friend and I'll just tell you ..." Yuck.

Secondly, Sid should remember an incident in North Carolina a few short months ago when some Duke lacrosse players were wrongly fingered by an overzealous prosecutor and a media looking for juice. The players were innocent. Their reputations? Beyond tarnished.

At this point, the investigation has proved nothing. But, still a prosecutor is talking to Sid about the investigation--and who knows what else Freeman whispered to Sid off the record. Both the media and the prosecutor need some facts before suggesting sexual assault. If these players are proven innocent----and again there have been no charges----will Sid and Freeman apologize for continuing to drag their names into the public eye?

2 comments:

MN Snowman said...

PJS writes: If these players are proven innocent----and again there have been no charges----will Sid and Freeman apologize for continuing to drag their names into the public eye?

Nobody gets "proven innocent" ... if there's a "proven" it will be either "guilty" or "not guilty" as there are typically the only two verdicts from a trial.

If no charges are ever brought against the players, nothing will be proven one way or another ... there'll just be a statement that the prosecutor's office did not find sufficient evidence to bring charges.

MN Snowman

Paging Jim Shikenjanski said...

MN Snowman...I probably should have removed the word 'proven.' But my point remains...there is no reason to write about these players until charges are brought or the prosecutor's office has something substantial to share.