Category Archives: Media

Great investigative series on sexual abuse by doctors

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has just published a great investigative series, Doctors & Sex Abuse.

The lead article, “License to Betray“, appeared July 8.

Here’s the newspaper’s description of how the project got started.

As is often the case with investigative reporting, this series in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution grew out of other work. Reporter Danny Robbins was examining orders by the Georgia Composite Medical Board for his 2015 stories on prison medical care. In doing so, he saw orders allowing doctors to continue practicing after a finding that they had sexually violated patients.

He compiled those orders, discovering about 70 cases clearly involving sexual misconduct. And in about two-thirds of those cases, he was shocked to find, doctors either didn’t lose their licenses or were reinstated after being sanctioned. That included doctors who had repeatedly crossed the line with patients.

To see if Georgia was an exception, the AJC hired a legal researcher to study laws governing medical practices in every state, as reporters gathered studies and looked for cases around the country, compiled from news reports and other public sources. That work raised questions about the pervasiveness of doctor sexual misconduct. The research, and periodic scrutiny from other news organizations, also suggested that doctors were treated differently from other sexual offenders.

The series is a real eye-opener.

The state-by-state guide cites a single case in Hawaii. Robert McCormick Browne was a psychiatrist at Kamehameha Schools who is accused of molesting dozens of boys between 1947 and 1985. He committed suicide 25 years ago when the allegations became public.

The newspaper notes one “key fact” about Hawaii’s disciplinary system.

The state only keeps disciplinary information on its website for five years, one of the most limited periods in the nation.

Just another area in which Hawaii shortchanges the public when it comes to information access.

OCCC tells reporters to “get off the property”

Speaking of public relations, did you catch the news yesterday about the power outage at the Oahu Community Correctional Center? Now power means no security systems working except via generators, and no air conditioning in buildings not designed to let in any outside air.

Here’s one of those things that drive me crazy, from a KHON news report last night:

We went to OCCC to see for ourselves, but were told to get off the property. We could only shoot from across the street.

We went to the union that represents corrections officers, United Public Workers, but no one was available to talk. We also went to the Department of Public Safety to get more specifics on the security measures that are in place. A spokeswoman said no one was available to go on camera. The only thing she could do was provide updates on the power outage.

There are several things in those two short paragraphs that make my head spin.

First of all, why should the Department of Public Safety be concerned about news crews on site to report on the power outage? Why not assist them in getting a couple of good camera angles and, in the process, assisting the public in understanding what’s going on? Okay, perhaps that’s just a rhetorical question, but the point is that this was wholly unnecessary, and would be counterproductive for any state department or agency.

Second, there’s a public sidewalk along the Gillingham side of OCCC. So why was KHON told they had to shoot from “across the street”?

And then there was this: “A spokeswoman said no one was available to go on camera.”

So who was the spokeswoman and why was she unable to go on camera?

According to Civil Beat’s database of public employees, the Department of Public Safety has a communications specialist earning $70,188 per year.

In my book, that’s someone who should be available to go on camera or before reporters to answer questions at just about any time.

Unavailable?

No. Unacceptable.

Tough talk from a PR pro

Longtime public relations pro Kitty Lagareta posted some cogent thoughts about the PR industry and Honolulu’s current rail crisis.

She began with a link to an article from Pacific Business News published four years ago (“Honolulu rail project cutting PR budget by 70%”).

Then she continued.

Four years later, things have, unfortunately gotten much worse. I’m in the public relations business, but increasingly I prefer to call it the communications business because so many people seem to think that if you are in “PR” your job is to “spin” information to make it appear better than things really are…even some in the profession believe this is their job. Early in the rail debacle Mayor Hannemann hired a lot of “PR” people to do exactly that–spin his concept that had no valid data to support it–although, I do believe he actually did convince many of them that this project would not only be his great legacy, it would also be theirs. Many good and ethical PR people have come and gone from this project because they eventually refused to “spin” information that wasn’t true. Some, just gave up when they realized the public could no longer be fooled by pretty pictures, promises, and nice words that didn’t match the facts. In reality, the real public relations professionals are about facts and truth, they believe the public has a right to information that affects their lives whether in the public or private sectors, and they know that “spinning” is for liars and the truth always rises to the surface. Forever grateful that I’ve never been involved in this mess, although I do believe that honest, factual and transparent communications…something Mufi Hannnemann knows nothing about…would have been at least one ingredient that might have shifted the current path this train is on. If Mayor Caldwell hadn’t been mentored so thoroughly by Mufi on communications, perhaps his path would be different now, too.

[reprinted with permission]

Iraq Report not kind to U.S. Middle East policies

If Congress has some spare change for new investigations available, how about doing something real rather than continually trying to resuscitate one or another version of the GOP’s attempts to demonize their Democratic Party opponents via endless spending of public funds on chasing conspiracy theories and largely discredited allegations.

The British just shamed Congress by comparison with the release of a report on their Iraq Inquiry, being referred to as the Chilcot Report.

The Guardian ran a good summary of “key points from the Iraq inquiry,” which of course reflect back on U.S. policy failures.

There’s one especially relevant these days, critical errors in post-invasion Iraq that led to the rise of ISIS (The Guardian: “UK foreign secretary: US decision on Iraqi army led to rise of Isis“).

Hammond, giving evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee, said: “Many of the problems we see in Iraq today stem from that disastrous decision to dismantle the Iraqi army and embark on a programme of de-Ba’athification.

“That was the big mistake of post-conflict planning. If we had gone a different way afterwards, we might have been able to see a different outcome.”

The influx of professional soldiers into groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq and later Isis had increased the threat that the organisations posed, he said. “It is clear a significant number of former Ba’athist officers have formed the professional core of Daesh [Isis] in Syria and Iraq, and have given that organisation the military capability it has shown in conducting its operations.”

The Intercept has been digging around in the report and the newly declassified documents that are included.

They track back to warnings given before the second Iraq invasion in 2003 that Western military action would trigger a terror response.

Just as the British did, multiple Western intelligence agencies have long recognized (usually in secret) that at the top of the list of terrorism’s causes is the West’s militarism and interference in predominantly Muslim nations — as a 2004 Pentagon-commissioned report specified in listing the causes of terrorism: “American direct intervention in the Muslim world”; our “one-sided support in favor of Israel”; support for Islamic tyrannies in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and, most of all, “the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.” The report concluded: “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies.” Countless individuals who carried out or plotted attacks on the West have said the same.

From another piece in The Intercept:

The Downing Street Memo, sometimes called the “smoking gun” document of the Iraq war, was leaked to the U.K.’s Sunday Times in 2005 (and the original has now been declassified as part of the Chilcot Report).

According to the Downing Street Memo, the British cabinet — including Blair — was informed by Richard Dearlove, then head of British intelligence, that the U.S. government was being consciously deceptive about its case for war. Dearlove, the memo reads, “reported on his recent talks in Washington. … Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

There’s so much material that it’s hard to map a strategy for digging beyond the surface. I’m just starting with the published accounts of what’s in the report, and looking towards jumping into specific sections of the report later.

Weekend reading, I guess.

News report of “police conspiracy” missed the mark

For those of you who don’t routinely check out Civil Beat, you might be interested in the column that I wrote last week (“Ian Lind: HPU-Police ‘Conspiracy’ Report Told Less Than Half the Story“).

It was triggered by a Hawaii news Now story a couple of weeks ago about a lawsuit alleging that a former HPU professor had been “set up” by two others at HPU to be killed by police. When the story said one of those involved was an experienced former HPD officer, it gave me one of those “Did I hear that right?” moments and was just strange enough to prompt me to check out the tale.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, court records provided a lot more of the background to the case. Most of the background called into question the lawsuit’s allegations and, in fact, its overall narrative, which had been uncritically repeated by HNN.

It isn’t known just how HNN decided to broadcast the lawsuits allegations almost as if they were fact, but apparently without doing any basic independent checking.

And its not clear to me why the attorney handing the case would go so far out on a limb with allegations where there’s such a contradictory back story.

But its a case that certainly reminds us that it’s best to read actively and not assume that the news media has done their homework.