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A Primer On Media Gaslighting (2), Pressure Groups – Part 1

A previous article discussed gaslighting by the mainstream media. This one discusses the way the grievance industry and pressure groups in general mislead the public. The mainstream media is often complicit in this by giving these damned liars unwarranted publicity or failing to ask any critical questions.

They are able to get away with lying on a grand scale because they support or profess to support worthy causes such as campaigning against poverty, sexual abuse, or latterly environmental degradation.

The campaigning charity Reprieve is a stellar example of how pressure groups gaslight the public. Reprieve campaigns against the death penalty and torture worldwide. While most politicians oppose it, certainly in the West, most members of the public are in favour of the death penalty for certain crimes – truly grotesque murders, serial murder, terrorist outrages…however, opposition to the death penalty under any circumstances is an ideological position with which most of us can live.

Reprieve was founded by Clive Stafford Smith (pictured), a lawyer who has practised on both sides of the Atlantic, and whose impeccably English accent impresses Americans. It shouldn’t, because Stafford Smith is intelligent, articulate, charismatic, and one of the most brazen liars who ever walked the Earth. Many of the claims he has made about American justice and specific cases can be debunked with a couple of mouse clicks, but no one ever bothers to fact check him, certainly no one in the media.

Here are a couple of examples of his overt dishonesty. In September 2009, he told the Independent that the previous week an American judge said an innocent person could be executed as long as the accused had had a “fair trial”. That distortion actually dates to the 1993 case of Herrera v Collins which he has misquoted widely, and which can be found all over the Internet.

The actual judgment is easily found, and needless to say the Supreme Court of the United States made no such pronouncement. Leonel Torres Herrera shot two police officers in separate incidents on the evening of September 29, 1981. He pleaded guilty to one of those murders and languished on death row until May 1993 when he was executed by lethal injection. At his October 1992 appeal, he decided he was innocent of both murders which had been committed by his brother. No prizes for guessing his brother was dead by this time.  The Supreme Court realised Herrera was trying it on, and ruled that “claims of actual innocence based on newly discovered [or fabricated] evidence” were not sufficient to stay an execution. Most jurists of reason would concur with that logic. Simply claiming something is true or false should not be sufficient to keep anyone out of gaol, much from a date with death.

Although neither Smith nor his organisation was involved in the Herrera case, he and Reprieve took up the case of another death row inmate and sought to exonerate her by slandering her lawyer from pillar to post. Linda Carty was convicted of the 2001 murder of young mother Joana Rodriguez in what was, or could have been, one of the most bizarre murders ever committed in Texas or anywhere. Her original plan was to kidnap the heavily pregnant Joana and cut the baby out of her – a foetal abduction. To this end she attempted to recruit a gang of miscreants to carry out the kidnapping by feeding them a cock and bull story about the two men with whom Joana lived being drug dealers.

The original gang backed out, and by the time the crime went ahead, Joana’s son had been born. Carty’s accomplices invaded Joana’s home, brutalised the two male occupants, then kidnapped mother and baby. Carty smothered Joana Rodriguez with a plastic bag in the trunk of her car.

Needless to say it took no time at all for the police to solve the crime. Realising she was the instigator and the only one who had murder in mind, the District Attorney’s office offered her co-defendants plea bargains to testify against her, which they accepted. Carty pleaded not guilty, was convicted, and sentenced to death.

Years into her sentence she came to the attention of Reprieve. Carty was an immigrant from the West Indies, and was technically a British citizen. She is also black, but as all her co-defendants were also black, there was no scope to play the race card, so Reprieve claimed poor Linda was on death row not because she had organised a home invasion, a robbery, and committed a terrible murder, but because she had the worst lawyer in Texas, if not the United States, if not the entire world. The basis for this claim was that he had more clients on death row than any other lawyer in America.

The truth behind the statistics is that Jerry Guerinot practised in Harris County, Texas, the death penalty centre of America if not the entire world, and he was a court-appointed attorney, which meant he didn’t get to choose his clients, at least one of whom was a serial murderer. He also had a very competent co-counsel, Windi Akins (later Windi Akins Pastorini) who was voted Lawyer of the Year in 2012 by two Texas legal bodies.

In the United States, the Carty case generated little media enthusiasm other than an asinine article by the New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak who simply parroted a Reprieve press release in one of his reports from the capital. In the UK though, the campaign generated a lot of support from the gullibles. Stafford Smith was also able to secure a new evidentiary hearing for Carty by subterfuge, but at the end of the day nothing changed, she is still on death row. There was a brief mention or two of her in the British press last year, but there will be no more until she is executed, unless she dies of old age in the meantime, as have even bigger monsters than her.

To Part 2.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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A Primer On Media Gaslighting (2), Pressure Groups – Part 2