Since local NBC affiliate WSMV aired a feature last night about an Occupy Nashville participant being featured on a website that tracks pedophiles, reaction has been fast and furious wherever it's been posted online. Unfortunately, a lot of what's been written in those online comments hasn't had a lot to do with the facts and that's probably due at least in part to the underlying sensational tone of the WSMV piece.
All weekend before the spot aired, the station's website ran a prominent headline across the page, pimping the coming attraction: "Nashville-based group accuses people online of pedophilia," read the banner, and if you didn't go straight to the video from there, you could also find it just below in the Top Video list. The promo featured voice over teasing that, gasp, maybe it's all a terrible mistake. The tone was set.
Then it got worse. The 7-minute report that ran Monday night was sprinkled with assertions that are not true, the most egregious example being, perhaps, the repeated statements in the report alleging that "most if not all" of those persons featured on the Evil Unveiled website have not been charged with a sex crime. In fact, that's so far from being true, I'm at a loss to understand how the error was made and shocked that the station hasn't updated their story after they were made aware.
Not charged with a sex crime? Really?
This page on the Evil Unveiled site offers a list of pedophiles featured on their site whose investigations EU participated in and who have been arrested for sex crimes. There are presently 20 people on that list. On another EU page, you'll see links to 50 profiles on their site, each to someone who already has registered sex offender status. Yet another page offers links to 59 more profiles, each one for a convicted sex offender and pedophile activist. Even with the inevitable overlap of names on these lists, this is patently not a case of people being profiled as pedophiles when they have no known participation in and conviction of sex related crime as insinuated by WSMV's Jeremy Finley in his report.
You'd never know any of that if you watched it, however, which you can do here. (At the time of this writing, the video has moved to page 6 in their video library. Or, see the story here.)
In my kinder moments, I attribute WSMV's repeated assertions that the persons profiled by the Evil Unveiled website are mostly not charged with sex crimes to be a stunning example of sloppy, lazy journalism. Perhaps an assistant somewhere was in a hurry and didn't look at the dang site. At other times...
Are we talking about two different sites?
If you read the entry I wrote here last night about the WSMV piece, you already know theirs was not the first report done on the Evil Unveiled website this year. And if you saw the 3-part series on EU produced by the ABC affiliate in Omaha, Nebraska, KETV, you might be wondering why the reports are so very different. I am.
The most glaring difference is that the 3-part series from KETV relied repeatedly on input from people involved in law enforcement, while the not quite 7-minute segment WSMV produced relied more on the accused pedophile, Albert Rankin aka Wolfy, than anything else. When you couple that fact with their tease that it could be a "lie," it's not difficult to see how someone who didn't know any better might express outrage that people are being profiled without good reason.
But the real puzzler to me is how did this happen? Media types aren't universally known for small egos, and one theory is that WSMV's Jeremy Finley was scooped in his own backyard by KETV's Ryan Luby and therefore was compelled to do a story. However, the fact remained that the real story had already been told, and told well, by Luby and KETV back in February. Did Finley feel obliged to do a different story? No matter how far the stretch? Maybe it's as simple as that. Or maybe it's something else.
Of course, as noted in my blog entry last night, the question of when Occupy Nashville knew about allegations concerning Rankin and pedophilia wasn't clearly represented in the piece that ran on WSMV. I might not have found that quite as curious had I not been involved in some communication about just that issue over the weekend before they ran their spot.
Over the weekend, I had a conversation with the member of ON's legal team that I had reported the allegations about Wolfy to back on January 6th. She told me she had spoken with Jeremy Finley from WSMV as part of his preparation for the story and her account of their conversation led me to believe she hadn't told him that I had notified her about this for the first time on January 6th, so I asked her about that. She replied that she had forgotten that had happened and we discussed whether or not she should call Finley and correct the information she gave him previously. In the end, she decided she would and it's my understanding that she did.
I also contacted Finley myself via email sent over the weekend and advised him of the change. I received an email acknowledging receipt of the information from him on Monday before the spot ran. The spot that ran suggesting ambiguously at the end that ON legal team went to confront Wolfy after seeing publication on January 31st of the Evil Unveiled profile devoted to him only to find him gone from the plaza. No mention was made of the fact that ON legal team had actually been notified three and a half weeks earlier.
It's all a mistake?
If you've been following this mess, you already know Wolfy is known for seeming to be unable to stop talking about his escapades. It's that insatiable ego that landed him in the Skype interview with Finley; he thought the premise for the interview was to talk about his "revolutionary" days at Occupy Nashville. He squirms like a worm in the interview when he realizes his mistake and is asked about allegations he's a pedophile. On the spot, he comes up with the explanation that someone must be impersonating him.
It's the same driving ego that had him in front of a camera at every opportunity while he was here as part of the occupation on the plaza and online in chat for the ON stream bragging about his part in Anonymous operations. And claiming to be AWOL. And bragging in IRC rooms about being a pedophile.
Soon after the Evil Unveiled web site published the page on him, Wolfy bragged in IRC about it. I'm guessing it's a status thing, or maybe it's just the attention he craves, any attention. Or perhaps it was that he was operating on an assumption that he's untouchable. It's been suggested to me by somebody who probably knows that that's indeed the case.
In the blog entry here (scroll down to "Wolfy."), I wrote about how I came to have the information regarding Wolfy being a pedophile. In my next entry, I'll introduce you to my informant and tell you more about why it's so ludicrous for Wolfy to claim anybody is impersonating him and setting him up falsely as a pedophile.
I'll also point you to information about the people who are gathering now to defend Wolfy, and, of course, because it's what they do, attack not only the EU site and those associated with it, but me as well. The bottom line? They can put horns on me and give me a tail, but that won't make anything I've said untrue.