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Bothersome NYT quote editing on Chris Kyle trial story

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    This bothered me, from the NYT's gamer off of the Kyle trial's opening day, and I was wondering what others think.


    In the story, the prosecutor is quoted as saying, of Eddie Ray Routh's insanity defense:

    “Mental illnesses, even the ones that this defendant may or may not have, don’t deprive people of the ability to be good citizens, to know right from wrong, to obey the law.”

    Of course, that's kind of exactly what they can do. But that's beside the point here. The quote bothered me, and so I read some other coverage. Here was the actual quote:

    The evidence will show that mental illnesses, even the ones that this defendant may or may not have, don’t deprive people of the ability to be good citizens, to know right from wrong, to obey the law.”

    So the problem here is that the first quote, from The Times, which is inaccurate, is an assertion by the lawyer, not backed by evidence. The second quote, which is accurate and was reported by everybody else, is more appropriate for an opening statement - the evidence is going to show that what I am about to say is true.

    This isn't a minor distinction, really. You aren't supposed to make arguments in your opening statement. You instead preview the evidence. Those aren't guidelines. Those are the rules.

    Someone covering a high-profile trial should have understood this, no?

  2. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    In the context of a courtroom proceeding, saying "the evidence will show that" keeps the attorney within the rules while making his argument in the opening statement. Those rules have no jurisdiction in the context of a newspaper story. In that context, "the evidence will show that" amounts to little more than self-attribution from Nash. The NYT story has "Mr. Nash told the jury ..." To me that carries the same attributional value.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    See, I don't think it does.

    On one hand, you have Nash saying that there will be evidence to support his statement about mental illness. Thus, he's going to put his money where his mouth is on this. However, in the Times version, it just sounds like he's stating this, as his opinion. That's a huge difference, for the reader following this trial.
  4. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    I see your point, but I'd think the reader following the trial would know that it's part of the attorney's job to present evidence.
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    To me, leaving off what the Times reporter apparently thought was superfluous from the quote changes its meaning quite a bit.
  6. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Rules are not rules.
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    "The evidence will show that" does not strike me as very much different from "I think."

    Not necessary and kind of redundant.
  8. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    No. The Times was selective in its use of quotation mark placement. He's not expressing a personal opinion or even a professional opinion. He's saying that in this case, in these circumstances, the evidence this jury will see in the trial of this defendant will show that mental illness did not interfere with this person's ability to gauge right from wrong.
    The TImes selective use of quotation mark placement, and removal of a qualifiying phrase in the sentence actually uttered changes the meaning of the statement. The TImes slanted the statement rather than report the statement.
    YankeeFan likes this.
  9. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    You twisted the statement way more with that paraphrase than anything the Times did. Nash was speaking in much broader terms than just this case. In any case, I don't see any difference between using the "evidence will show that" and not using it. The meaning is the same.
  10. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    Cutting a phrase out of a sentence isn't a quote. It's gimmickry and it's lying. It wasn't what he said. The difference was the times said he made a declaratory and definitive statement of fact. What he said was a supposition that will be proven. What they 'quoted' him saying was a fact. In covering a trial, it is different.

    Times made a bullshit editorial decision for no apparent reason
  11. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Have to agree with Dick. Totally changes the meaning of the quote. "The evidence will show ..." is a key phrase in the statement.
    YankeeFan likes this.
  12. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    Exactly. It's like the difference between "money is the root of all evil" and what was really written: "the love of money is the root of all evil." The omitted words change the meaning entirely.
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