Dec. 10, 2014
“More than a decade ago, I wrote about the McMartin preschool case, and other satanic ritual child abuse accusations that turned out to be false. Back then, the slogan many supporters of the accusations brandished was, ‘Believe the Children.’ It was an antidote to skepticism about real claims of child abuse, just as today, ‘Believe the Victims’ is a reaction to a long history of callous oversight of rape accusations.
“ ‘Believe the Victims’ makes sense as a starting presumption, but a presumption of belief should never preclude questions. It’s not wrong or disrespectful for reporters to ask for corroboration, or for editors to insist on it. Truth-seeking won’t undermine efforts to prevent campus sexual assault and protect its victims; it should make them stronger and more effective.”
– From “Reporting on Rape” by Margaret Talbot at newyorker.com (Dec. 7)
Given the prosecution’s strategic secrecy, the pursuit of corroboration in the Little Rascals case presented an enormous challenge. But news coverage could been far more skeptical and revealing – perhaps even game-changing. The editor of the News & Observer certainly thought so.