Friday, April 20, 2007

Anderson Cooper's 60 Minutes 'snitching' segment looks pretty lightweight


Via Rush Limbaugh and Drudge, I discover that CBS News will tackle the complex subject of informants this weekend on 60 Minutes, but reporter Anderson Cooper appears to be taking the most facile possible tack. Commenter dadpon at the 60 Minutes website sums up my opinion of what's been previewed so far of Anderson Coopers feature this Sunday on the so-called "Stop Snitching" movement:
the best way to win an argument is to find the dumbest person to represent the opponent, to make yourself sound superior
That, Mr. Cooper has certainly done, in this case by interviewing a rapper named Cam'ron with more gold than sense who announces that he would not snitch on a serial killer if he knew one were living next door! (You can watch a snippet of Cam'ron's interview and see Cooper's "reporter's notebook" in the right hand column of this page.) CBS' website describes Cooper's story as a "report on how the hip-hop culture's message to shun the police has undermined efforts to solve murders across the country."

Well, that's part of the story, but as regular readers of this blog know, certainly not all of it. If Cooper ever Googled the word snitching, then he found two Grits posts on his first screen:
Just reading these two items alone would provide a broader perspective than presented in the overview. The first of the two bullets above links to and quotes from an academic article by Loyola Law School Prof. Alexandra "Sasha" Natapoff, who in my opinion is perhaps the nation's premier thinker on the subject of confidential informants. (See her Slate article, "Bait and Snitch.") If Cooper didn't interview Natapoff, to me this isn't a serious report but is the national news equivalent of local "if it bleeds it leads" coverage.

Clicking around just a little further on Grits from those stories, Cooper would have discovered a recent gathering of experts in Atlanta where he could have drawn more able spokespersons than Cam'ron, including from among the hip hop set. There are many more articulate critics available than this guy to describe the implications of the stop snitching phenomenon. We'll see what the full story looks like, but it'll be disappointing if it contains no more depth than the previews lead one to believe.

See prior, related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

A well-rounded look at snitching would have the question asked of a cop: would he snitch on another cop, especially if he feared his brother cops would murder him?

Ask lawyers if they would snitch on another lawyer, prosecutors on prosecutors, judges on judges, Senators on Senators.

CEOs on CEOs, CFOs on CFOs, stockbrokers on stockbrokers.

FBI agents on FBI agents.

Doctors on doctors.

Since people in trusted positions are flat out against snitching in any form, then shouldn't we untrustworthy great unwashed follow their example?

Anonymous said...

LOL. Nice tirade from from a self described loser. Thank God for snitches!

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that the segment failed to note one of the most important aspects of this issue - that witnesses who talk to police are often afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation including death. Still, the arrogance that some people have and happiness they show at not telling police about murder or other crimes is shameful.

m. frandsen

Anonymous said...

You cite the definition of snitching as: "someone acting as an informer or decoy for the police" But you don't condemn the "stop snitchin" movement. Why not? Why not make it clear what you mean and say "stop lying to police." Kids don't pick up on the nuance. You say it's about false testimony from people looking for immunity or leniency, but I call bullshit. Someone who is going to lie to the police to save their own skin is going to do that no matter how many "stop snitchin'" shirts and videos and tv shows they are surrounded by. What the stop snitchin' movement really does is stop ordinary people, especially kids, from helping the cops catch criminals. Murders, rapists, and other violent criminals should be held to account. People who believe the "stop snitchin'" message think that vigilantes are the answer. Do you think that?

Grain of Salt said...

I understand the history behind snitching with regard to its impact on the anti-slavery and civil rights movements.
What I do not understand is how this history can be used to excuse the present lack of will to help police solve a murder investigation.
Are people who exercise this dysfunctional code actually willing to let friends, neighbors and family members die without justice? Or, are they content with retribution through "neighborhood justice" with drive-by shootings? (Although these drive-bys almost always fail to kill the intended target and bystanders are usually the victims.)
Is the martyrdom of silence respected by their Creator? I think not.