Saturday, November 26, 2011

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Personal and Professional Responsibility - The Leveson Inquiry

For those who don't know, the Leveson Inquiry that has been going on in the UK is essentially a hearing about media intrusion into private lives and grievous media abuse by way of printing lies and outrageous stories without basis in fact.

I am not going to discuss any particular people who gave testimony at the Inquiry but I want to discuss where I feel both professional and personal responsibility has an impact on what ends up in the media and where those of us in the media need to point the finger - at others or ourselves - and under what circumstances.

First, I agree with much that was said about the media's need to act in a professional and legal manner. No story should take precedence over the physical safety of those the news reporters are attempting to write about (running them down with a car, crushing them against a wall, tripping them, etc.) as all of these actions are clearly physical assaults which are crimes.

Next, journalists are supposed to be writing news, not gossip, nor opinion. Therefore, they should have facts and legitimate sources to back up their stories. For example, some silly folks have been recently claiming on Twitter and Facebook that I am a drunk - I guess because I made a joke about how wine can't be sold before a certain time in the morning in Washington DC and a couple of times I made reference to having a wine with dinner. This is all quite ridiculous because anyone who spends time around me knows I rarely have more than a glass of wine or one beer a couple times a week, if that. I could count the times in my life on one hand when I have had more than two glasses of anything alcoholic in the same night.

But, suppose someone had caught a pic of me the day I got out of a car in front of CNN and sprawled into the road. I had stepped sideways and caught my tennis shoe on the edge, my ankle caved and I went down onto the pavement. Next we read in the press, "Profiler Pat Brown in Drunken Sprawl at CNN!" Okay, that really is libelous. It is NOT news because the reporter didn't actually bother to find out if I was drunk; he would have gotten a cool pic, linked it to Internet gossip, and published this bogus story. This is the kind of thing that has gotten out of hand in the tabloids and on Internet "news" sites (,, etc) where there is no concern for actually reporting of facts and there is a dearth of editors and a lot of money to be made making up stuff and not worrying about its veracity.

There, however, is nothing wrong with printing that a professional person has a theory (as it is a fact that person has a theory) as long as it it made clear that this is what it is. A newspaper or news magazine is also supposed to be to a reasonable extent (although in reality this is often not true) impartial and merely reporting the news; the idea is there ought to be some even-handedness in reporting what is going on in the world or a particular story. The journalist is supposed to squelch his viewpoints and just reports the facts, ma'am. I do differentiate print news outlets and television news outlets which have clearly added a great deal of commentary to the news these days, and, as long as it is clearly commentary and is not mixed up with the actual facts of the news, I am okay with it.

So, I agree with many speaking at the Leveson Inquiry that the media is a bit out of control in its aggressiveness in getting a hot story or making one up that is simply not true.

But, there is another aspect to some of this: excessive whining by those who court the media or who seek fame and fortune and then don't like ALL of the results. Or for those who end up in the media due to behaviors that have landed them in hot water. Look, sometimes we make mistakes, do stupid stuff, even outrageous shit, or even do something that is right but risky and we get stuck with the unfortunate results of said behaviors. I think we can all relate to this in some form or another. We all likely have humiliated ourselves at some time in our lives or lost a friend or a job due to some remark or bad behavior; we have suffered the consequences of our actions, regardless of whether we knew what was coming or got blindsided. If we did something foolish, we have to live with it. If we did something courageous but got slammed for it, we have to still live with it. This is called "life."

When it comes to people stepping into the media spotlight..hullo....yes, you did know you were playing with fire. If you have become ridiculously famous or rich or you take major risks in life, you gotta deal with it. If you a a rich businessman in Mexico, Central or South America, you cannot be unaware that kidnapping of your children could happen to you. If you are an international reporter in a war zone, you can't say you thought getting your leg blown off by an IED was as an impossibility. Police officers know they may get shot, mountain climbers know they may fall, boxers know they may get brain damage. Choices comes with consequences.

Marilyn Monroe or J.K. Rowling were once unknowns and walked the streets without anyone paying them a bit of attention. Then they became rich and famous and they both had the media and fans bugging the hell out of them. Yes, that is what comes with the territory and it is bit annoying to hear the whining about "I have no private life," and "News people follow me around." No shit, Sherlock. Lucky for you, you can buy a billion dollar house with massive walls and security and you can ride in a limo with bodyguards and you can afford to fly to some isolated tropical paradise for your vacation.

I am no where in the league of Monroe or Rowling with fame and fortune, but I have to deal with the downside of being on television, being an author, and being vocal about issues I believe need to be addressed, sometimes the less popular side of the debate. I get hate email, I have libelous garbage and vicious rumors spread about me on the Internet, I have pages dedicated to trashing my work and my reputation, and I have unflattering pictures that show up (some taken by people I have met at a public function, some from bad days on television, and some that have been Photoshopped). I have had the media report things incorrectly, repeat libelous stuff, and write less than flattering stories about me. These things are not exactly pleasant, but if you step into this kitchen you better learn to take the heat and find ways to minimize its negative effects. Some celebrities have assistants that only pass on fan mail and block everything else. Some celebrities have entourages to cheer them on and tell them how wonderful they are day and night. Some celebrities go to therapists.

I have found my own ways to deal with negative assaults on me. I have a "Hate Mail" file in my Outlook box. As soon as I see nastiness seeping out of the words in front of me, I say, "Bye!" and toss it into the hate file. I block stalkers and harassers from my site on Facebook and Twitter (no, this is not curtailing your Freedom of Speech). Mostly, I keep a sense of humor and humility about negative opinions of me: some actually have a bit of validity( I am not a perfect person and sometimes I think, well, yeah, he is kind of right about that...) and others just are so ridiculous, you really can laugh about what they say. So far I have been called a drunk, a liar, a fraud, a narcissist, a psychopath, a media whore, a moneygrubber, a sadist, a neglectful mother, an abusive mother, a vicious fishwife, a menopausal psychotic, a stalker, a fugly I forgetting something? (Don't worry, someone will show up in the comments and fill in the blanks). Luckily, after a while, you kind of get used to it, especially in the days of Internet communications where it is essentially the Wild Wild West again with everyone and his brother taking potshots at you..

I also have to be careful of what I do. I surely will not be on a nude beach anytime soon or that pic will show up on Facebook within minutes (being my age, quite frankly, I am not too happy about ANY photo showing up of me in a bathing suit). I have to be careful in any public location and in any relationship. God knows, with cell phone cameras, you better know who you are alone with or you are going to end up on YouTube in a sex video. When you come right down to it, you DO lose your private life when you become a public figure and you have to work overtime to protect those private moments by going to very well controlled private situations (your own home, a trusted friend's home, etc) or a far off place where no one has a clue who you are or you have to go in disguise. Not always an easy life, but if one wants out of the limelight, one can get out of the limelight.

Another important thing for people at this Leveson Inquiry to recognize (as well as all others who are getting media attention) is that the people matter the most don't pay that much mind to the media garbage out there. My family and friends know exactly who I am, as do the people I work with; my interactions with them are the same as they have always been because when we are together, we have our same personal and professional relationship which depends on just me and them and not on all the stories that run rampant out in the papers and on websites.

So, does the media need to get its act together? I say, "Yes," as far as properly reporting the news and not crossing the line of libel and physical assault. But, media personalities also need to get their acts together and acknowledge their own responsibility for the life they have chosen, accept the pros and cons of that lifestyle and stop blaming everyone else for the downside of fame and fortune. If it really is too much, give away all your money and go live in Bangladesh.

By the way, ask most people who receive a lot of media attention if they would rather give up their high profile life and I doubt you will find many who would wnt to.. There are definitely negatives that come with media visibility but I can tell you that the opportunities that come with that visibility are most often worth the downside of fame - and I am not talking about money, but the ability to do things that would never have been possible without that media boost - increased communications, achieving goals in one's field that would be impossible without a high profile, having an impact on important issues - so many advantages come from the limelight, that those who are lucky to be the rare ones to get any amount of it should refrain from complaining about being famous. They should thank their lucky stars.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pat,
The 'celebrity' phase of Leveson is really just a side-show, a calculated distraction between two sides who (with 1 or 2 exceptions) largely deserve each other.
The real issue at stake is promised in phase 2: the tangled collusion between press, government and police (indeed MI5). Those journos who have already broken ranks paint a horrifying picture.
Celebrity culture is simply being used as a lever for tighter control of the media, when really the question is not one of press 'intrusion' but of wilfull blindness.
We have a media of the press release rather than of investigation.
I've seen journalists on twitter (and in person!) use the term 'conspiracy theorist' as some kind of blanket dennunciation of any possible story. Have these people no appreciation that criminals DO actually conspire!? Indeed, 'conspiring' is the very MO of most (if not all) criminality - on both the petty scale, and the scale of 'state' (as Leveson may come to show - or maybe not!!).
It is an interesting moment though Pat! Powerful relationships are being negotiated, and just occassionally a little stone can bring about a mighty fall. Not probable...but possible, if you get my drift!!

SteelMagnolia said...

The celeb Leveson drama is not my main interest, I want to see those in power locked up , scheming Brooks , Cameron and of course Andy Coulson.

Deepest of silence over the fact the McCanns have been hacked, no earth shattering headlines and we all know why dont'we...there are journalists out there who know a lot about the McCanns.

It makes so much sense now and will not be difficult to compare what the media were saying in the early days and compare it to the McCanns versionof events..for example, sedating the children and the McCanns claiming there was no evidence blah blah while the press were trying to explain the fluids found were from the twins leaking nappies...this more than like was an explanation explained to a family member overheard by hacking.

Anonymous said...

Pat this is what the Leveson Inquiry is all about corruption at the highest level. Murdoch the British Goverment and Scotland is where the stench lies not a group of celebs who want to tell their story for a large payout which is all they are after.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pat the most tweeted today ..laughs :)

Anonymous said...

@steelmagnolia ^^^^

"there are journalists out there who know a lot about the McCanns."

Oh yes, that is for certain.

And silence (at this precise moment) can be very eloquent.

However, I think that in this particular case everything hinges upon the possibility of the investigation being restarted. (Only then will the media be forced from its corner)

Does anyone have that nugget of information that might legally be deemed 'new'?

My guess (just a guess) is that somebody most assuredly does. The question then becomes one of presenting that information in a legally fit way, and (presumably) without incriminating the journalist his/her self.

Is such a scenario possible?

I think it may be. There is a kind of vacuum at the heart of this which must make some people very nervous right now.

A small chink and the air rushes in!

But this won't be played out in headlines; just quiet process I think - a small disclosure and the appropriate investigative will. If at all.

(first anon!)

SteelMagnolia said...

Dear Pat Brown,

Your latest post has stayed on my mind for the last 24 hours and I have 'heard' NOT read,( I do not go to their cesspits )about the gossip that NOT ONLY you but your attorney Anne are a couple of drunks :) :) laughs , yes this would explain the great success you both have had in your careers, down a couple of vodka bottles a day and slur your way in front of a judge :) :)

Pat it saddens me that you feel you have to defend yourself against a bunch of lowlife cunts (please remove this part if it offends you but the only description for them)

I have cancer and this group of ' cunts' are very disappointed that I am still alive, in fact because I am it would appear I made it up : ) : ) laughs... one of them WAS a VERY good friend of mine she even helped me with my young nephew !!

And what have we done to warrant this assault ? our ONLY crime is to defend a dead three year old child. Yes sir, I plead guilty as charged !

Pat to give you a handle on the kind of family Maddie came from , two weeks, remember two weeks, even if you were to believe the folklore abduction, listen to Gerry's mother. The FUND STACKING has cheered him up..I had to listen three times the FUND pouring in has cheered him up Pat !

And then listen to Brian Kennedy the money was a FIGHTING FUND not to search for was to be used for Legal Expenditure not sure about you Pat but the McCanns were expecting to be charged and the money was to pay their legal costs !

We all love you Pat so don't you ever lower yourself to answer to that bunch of loser's ever again. xx

Place this video on your FACEBOOK let the world see the money grabbers and the grins on their faces when they talk about MONEY ! TWO WEEKS after Maddie ' disappeared'

Anonymous said...

Something is happening on twitter that I believe you should be aware of . McCanns have a group of trolls who work for them and are having peoples accounts suspended who do not believe their fairytale abduction.

McCanns seem to have now employed Mark Williams ‘ child protector’ as their spokesman to have non believers accounts suspended. I have reported this to twitter but thought you should know what is happening.

Some background info on THE REAL Mark Williams he is nothing but a crook !

The shady past of McCann supporter Mark William-Thomas

June 2003 – Man ‘blackmailed funeral firm’

A journalist blackmailed a funeral firm by threatening to publish claims more than one person was buried in the same grave, a court has heard.

Freelance reporter Mark Williams-Thomas demanded money from the chief executive of Dignity Funerals, Chichester Crown Court was told.

Miss Henrietta Padget, prosecuting, told the jury that at least three newspapers and a TV station were said by Mr Williams-Thomas to have been ready to run the story.

He claimed a former Dignity employee had told him bodies had been buried “inappropriately” at a cemetery in Leatherhead, Surrey.
Blackmail claim

Mr Williams-Thomas, of Beech Lane, Hindhead, Surrey, denies a charge of blackmail.

The court was told he had arranged to meet the chief executive of Dignity, Peter Hindley, at the Gatwick Hilton in January 2002.
“Mr Thomas told Mr Hindley that the story was ready to go and that newspapers and TV were interested,” she said.
“He said he was a businessman trying to sell a story, and that if Mr Hindley bought the story that would be the end of the matter.
“He said if they bought it he would take care of it.” Miss Padget said the defendant’s demands added up to blackmail.

Angelique said...


Good article - you really do talk a lot sense!

@Anon. Dec.3 2011 5:11 AM

Really! So Twitter and Facebook controlled eh! Nice one TM.