John Phillips
And the winner of the Fake News Award is …

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[size=x-small]AP Photo/David Zalubowski

In this Jan. 3, 1997, file photo, a police officer sits in her cruiser outside the home in which 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in Boulder, Colorado on Dec. 26, 1996.
By John Phillips | Orange County Register
PUBLISHED: January 10, 2018 at 8:30 pm | UPDATED: January 11, 2018 at 12:28 pm
[size=medium]Now that the page has (hopefully) turned on fire season, Southern California will quickly be consumed with our next season — Awards season!
First it was the Golden Globes, later tonight it will be the Critics Choice Awards and then in March it’s the granddaddy of them all, the 90th Annual Academy Awards celebration.
At these ceremonies, Hollywood will shower itself with statues and praise — as they wear black to protest their own industry’s various embarrassing sexual harassment scandals.
Who says slacktivism can’t be slimming?
It’s really a shame that my colleague at KABC-AM 790, Doug McIntyre, wasn’t nominated for his documentary, “Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon.”
I mean, seriously, how great would the reaction be on the faces of the red carpet fashionistas when they ask him who he is wearing, and McIntyre responds with, “Kirkland?”

And we can’t forget President Trump’s highly anticipated Fake News Awards. On January 7th, the President promoted the event by tweeting, “The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!”

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball to predict who will be taking home the gold at the Fake News Awards, but I do have a network to nominate: CBS.
CBS deserves thoughtful consideration by the academy at the Fake News Awards for their shameful series The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey, where the network concluded, to millions of viewers, that JonBenet’s brother Burke Ramsey killed his sister.

Ramsey is currently, and understandably, suing the Tiffany Network for $750 million, alleging that he was defamed and his reputation was ruined as a result of the spurious broadcast.
In the special, a panel of law enforcement specialists came to the conclusion that after reviewing evidence from the case that Burke, then 9 years old, killed 6-year-old JonBenet by accident in 1996. The investigators also believed the children’s parents, John and Patsy Ramsey, faked their daughter’s kidnapping to cover for their son.
True crime journalist Dawna Kaufmann has written extensively about the case and told the Register, “CBS and the participants of that program blundered badly and now must pay for their irresponsible error.
“Authorities cleared Burke who, if he had guilty knowledge, would have been isolated by his parents. Instead they sent him to a friend’s home, then right back to school.”
On Twitter, L. Lin Wood, the attorney for Burke Ramsey, adopted a very similar tone after a Michigan judge denied the network’s motion to dismiss Ramsey’s lawsuit. Wood tweeted, “Fake investigators. Fake investigation. Fake ‘documentary.’ Fake result and false accusations. And now a fake @CBSNews response to its huge loss today in Burke Ramsey defamation case. For those in the know, this is a very big win for Burke.”
What is really shameful about the CBS broadcast is that the network either knew, or should have known, that they were passing along reckless and unverified information that had very real consequences.
If you’re accusing someone of being a killer, you’d better be right.
CBS wasn’t.
For whatever reason, Americans are fascinated with true crime. It’s the reason that documentaries and scripted dramas are currently being produced about O.J. Simpson, the Menendez Brothers, Tonya Harding and yes, JonBenet Ramsey.
The problem for filmmakers is that while the public thirst for new content on these iconic crimes is there, the facts really haven’t changed much since the trials. That means to find a new and exciting angle, networks are forced to play the “what if” game.
“Even though there’s no evidence that supports the theory that Burke Ramsey was the killer, what if he did it?”
That is, by definition, fake news. And soon a court will decide if it’s defamatory, too.
[i]John Phillips is a CNN political commentator and can be heard weekdays at 3 p.m. on “The Drive Home with Jillian Barberie and John Phillips” on KABC/AM 790.[/i]

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