Saturday, September 17, 2011


Kim Severson of The New York Times sets out to write a story about the fight to save Troy Davis from execution in Georgia and decides the story is all about how frivolous and trendy the campaign is:

...Like others involved in the case, [NAACP president Benjamin Jealous] credits Mr. Davis's sister, Martina Correia, a media-friendly former soldier who has long argued that the police simply got the wrong man, with keeping the story alive....

Altogether, it had the makings of a story that has grabbed many armchair lawyers and even the most casual opponent of the death penalty.

The list of people asking that the Georgia parole board offer clemency has grown from the predictable (Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Indigo Girls) to the surprising, including 51 members of Congress, entertainment heavyweights like Cee Lo Green and death penalty supporters including William S. Sessions, a former F.B.I. director, and Bob Barr, a former member of Congress, and some leaders in the Southern Baptist church. (Unlike some other states, in Georgia the governor cannot commute a death sentence; only the parole board can.)

Propelled by a recent flood of digital media including Twitter traffic and online petition requests, the case has become fodder for discussion in fashionable Atlanta bistros, Harlem street corners and anywhere living room sleuths gather in their search for another Casey Anthony trial to dissect....

(Emphasis added.)

The subtext seems to be that expressing concern about Davis's fate is about as substantial an act as impulsively switching to the latest yoga trend. This might not be so bad if Severson could bring herself to lay out the evidence for and against Davis's guilt in anything more than bare-bones form, but she can't -- beyond being told that "there was very little physical evidence and no DNA and a case built largely on witnesses who changed their story," we learn no details. This is a life-and-death story turned into a Styles of the Times piece. It's an embarrassment.