CNN Poll: Do You Agree  
(4/2/98)
 
I watch a lot of MSNBC and CNBC which means I'm bombarded with a multitude of hot legal opinions from any number of questionable sources. I come to expect that from those stations which bill themselves as all news and information 24 hours a day. Hey, you have to fill up air time some how.

I had always perceived CNN in a different light, however, now I'm not so sure. In the aftermath of the the Paula Jones v. William Jefferson Clinton lawsuit being tossed by an Arkansas federal judge (who was appointed by George Bush, by the way), the network' web site threw out the following question for response: "Do you agree with the judge's ruling?".

You've got to be kidding me.

If the news network had asked "do you think the decision was good for the county?", "do you think the decision was politically motivated?", or "do you think the judge's decision will effect the President's popularity?" then I would have no qualm. But to ask whether the public agrees with the decision is very un-CNN like.
 
Please note that this isn't a lawyer v. layman issue. I'm the first to admit that I am in no position whatsoever to express an opinion as to whether the judge was correct. In order to make such a determination, a person must understand (1) the Plaintiff's legal allegations, (2) what exactly must be proven to establish those claims, (3) the federal summary judgment law including who has the burden to produce what, and (4) the standard of proof that the judge must use to make her decision. Once a person has a firm grasp of those issues, then he would have the additional responsibility to review the voluminous evidence presented by both parties, determine what facts have been supported by competent summary judgment proof, and then apply law to the facts.

I try to stay well informed, but I wouldn't dream of answering the CNN poll question - I don't have enough information to make such a judgment. (At the time of this writing, however, 71,000 people had responded to the poll).

One can say, of course, that the poll is "just for fun" but CNN was reporting the results of the unscientific poll on its Headline News station every 30 minutes.
 
In this world of information overload, itís a little disturbing to CNN veer from the straight and narrow.

Barry Green is the District Attorney for the 271st Judicial District.


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