Saturday, October 30, 2010

L.A. Times on the "No Pardon President"

The L.A. Times features an editorial which discribes President Obama's clemency program, or "non-clemency" program, a "disappointment." Noting that there is no "shortage" of applicants, the Times complains that it is "hard to believe" that none are deserving of mercy. We could not agree more.

But the Times also argues that the public "associates" the pardon power with Ford's pardon of Richard M. Nixon, Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich or Bush's commutation for Scooter Libby. To the extent that this is true, however, it is largely the fault of the media, which over consistently over-emphasizes "controversial" cases and fails to balance such reporting with an emphasis on the typical presidential pardon (an act which merely restores the civil rights of individuals who have served their time and have become productive, law-abiding members of society).

In addition, there are those many reporters who insist on the cheap thrill by misrepresenting clemency decisions in order to fabricate controversy (e.g., by focusing entirely on criticisms of clemency decisions and failing to report the justifications for such decisions, by claiming pardons are springing hardened criminals from prisons and tossing them into the streets, etc.). Witness the very sorry media coverage of Mike Huckabee's decision making re Maurice Clemmons!

In sum, we hope the president changes. But we also hope that members of the news media will change as well. See Times editorial here.

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