Questioning Corporate Media’s Thirst for Scandal in the Age of #MeToo

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In her latest book, journalist JoAnn Wypijewski challenges the simplistic language used to describe court cases related to sex. Art by Fish Sir Realism

The Times Literary Supplement in a rave review of JoAnn Wypijewski’s provocative new book states: “It is thrilling and cathartic to watch Wypijewski slice through our culture’s flabbiest orthodoxies.” On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Wypijewski talks to host Robert Scheer about the “haste to castigate” that has led to shoddy reporting of the true meaning of trials she has covered, ranging from the media frenzy trial of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein to the framing of five teenagers known as the Central Park Five on rape charges, which she offers as a shocking example of a “scandal media” lynching mob. 

And it’s not just the media that control narratives, but also prosecutors who wield wildly disproportionate power against even the rich and famous. To the journalist, the two very different cases of the Central Park Five and Weinstein reveal that not only is the presumption of innocence always under threat in a court case, but that there is “no one who [can match] the resources of the state,” making a fair trial nearly impossible. 

Throughout her long career as a journalist for Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, and Mother Jones, Wypijewski has not only examined sex scandals, but everything from the Matthew Shepard murder to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, always incisively formulating the questions that few in media seem to want to ask. Listen to the full conversation between Wypijewski and Scheer as the two journalists tackle some of the most controversial and therefore crucial questions of our time.

*Correction: in the following podcast Harvey Weinstein is misidentified as the producer of the Hunting Ground, he was the film’s distributor.



Joshua Scheer