Thursday, January 29, 2009

Television Journalism

So, here we go again. Tonight is Oxygen’s turn via their program “Snapped”, produced by Jupiter Entertainment. I think I have a pretty good understanding about how these cheesy tabloid shows operate now. My first introduction was with “48 Hours Mystery”, and with certain producers who didn’t put a huge value on honesty and integrity. This made me quite jaded towards television “journalism”. Check out the previous three posts to follow my thoughts. “Not for Nothing”, but here is a take on contemporary tabloid journalism.
These productions that are broadcast, concerning my wife, are intended to produce ratings. The narrative that the prosecution pushed is awesome. Sex, lies, and videotape. Give me more. I’ll watch that. That is the bottom line. Give me a “True Hollywood Story”, and I am entertained. That was why the stolen picture of Mechele raised no concerns to the State or the CBS producers. They both get what they want. The prosecution gets to reinforce their “stripper” depiction and CBS gets to show some skin.
It is interesting to me, again, that Mechele’s previous occupation was so important to the prosecution and media narrative. The prosecution’s strategy was evident in retrospect when a juror commented how Mechele's past “profession” indicated that she was “manipulative”. A “profession” that lasted 1.5 years. As for the media, we know that sex sells. Shoot, the Alaska Daily News even referred to the case as the “Stripper Saga”. But you know what was missing? No mention or references to the fact that the men involved in this particular story were strip club “regulars”.
A “regular” refers to a patron, or client, of a strip club who comes in on a regular basis. I don’t know about you, but to me this is far more depraved then actually stripping. The stripper is making money and her clients know the score the minute they walk into the door. They are providing a service for the clients that the clients demand. However, if you go to a club all the time to pay for lap dancea, I would argue that it is you that has a problem, and not the dancer.
That is, of course, unless you feel men are helpless, mindless testicles running around with no control over their behavior. If you believe that is the case, I think you underestimate men and even “degrade” them. However, that was the prosecution’s narrative. They would have you believe Mechele was a 22 year-old “puppeteer” with magical control over men who were mindless servants. In other words, a fictional character. Maybe even from a movie?
Unfortunately, nuance exists. Please read my previous post that entails communication with the Jupiter Entertainment producers to get a feel for how nuance is ignored in favor of ratings. I redacted all names.
Thank you all for your support.
You give me and my daughter hope.

Colin Linehan


No said...

I only recently became aware of this case, so I fully admit I do not know all the facts of this case. However, after viewing the Oxygen Snapped program, I did a little searching and ended here. I would like to offer to Mechele's husband and family, that although I do not know the entirety of this case, and do believe if she were behind this murder, she is where she belongs. With that statement though, I would also like to offer that I have not found any proof of any "concrete" evidence that proves that Mechele is guilty of the crime she was convicted of. It seems to me with the reading of the materials I have read, that Mechele was convicted based on the fact that she was a "stripper" at one time in her life. I find if very offense that the media has used terms such as "seductress", "ex stripper", etc in trying this case in the media. I am appalled at the injustice that appears to me at this point to have happened to this woman. If she is guilty of this crime she deserves to be in prison, but she also deserves a fair and just trial, and to not be tried and convicted by the media based on the ONLY fact that she was at one brief time in her life..a stripper. Seems that the prosecution had no proof or concrete evidence, such as motive, (she stated when asked she did not know if the ins. policy had been changed or not) nor was there any weapon ever found, or any such hard evidence to link her directly. She was convicted based on assumptions and the fact that at one time she was a stripper. How unfair and sad.
I will from now on take any further "Snapped" episodes with a grain of salt.
My heart goes out to her and her husband and family. I will keep you all in my prayers and thoughts. God be with you all and help to get this case right.

livieandhermommies said...

Dear Mr Linehan,

I too have only become aquainted with the appalling travisty of justice through watching the "news Journalism" show 48 hours. Because of a random happenstance as this, I have learned everything I could about Mechele's case, her trial, and what I pray will be a successful appeal. I have also had the opportunity to send some books to Mechele, and correspond with her. My heart breaks for you and her, and especially for your daughter. I only wish there was more I could do to assist you folks. Please know your are all in my thoughts and prayers, and I do so pray that she will be home by this summer, at least on appeal, and that the second jury can understand the most basic rule of our justice system "Beyond a reasonable doubt."
If there is ever any way that I would be able to do something at all to assist you folks, your can respond to me through this e-mail:

Turtlepace said...

I may be revisiting the Hope Note, but it really takes speculation to use it to link Mechele and John to the death five days later. Kent Leppink's letter to his parents is three days closer to his death than the Hope Note and Kent wrote the letter himself. So if we are to speculate as to why Kent was "lured" back to Hope, his motive would be more likely revealed by his letter. And his primary reason for writing the letter was revenge. He is planning his own death and blaming it in advance on Mechele. He wants John and Scott punished, too. That's a frame. If we are to speculate at all about the Hope Note, it might be concerning his wanting revenge after going to Hope and discovering that neither Mechele nor the cabin were there.

Turtlepace said...

I read that Mechele and John were shocked when John IV found the weapon in the hall closet. Now if they didn't want him to find the weapon, why would they hide it in a place he would have to go to find the dog's leash? And if all three of them were surprised the gun was there, who put it there and how long was it there? Since they didn't know how long it was there, they didn't know if it were there before or after the murder. As improbable as it might seem, they couldn't be sure that someone had not replaced it there after the murder. Kent might have put it there before he went off to die, but John wouldn't know for sure if it were the murder weapon or not. Naturally he couldn't take a chance on his son's fingerprints being on it.

Turtlepace said...

I think the Hope Note was the reason that Kent wanted the revenge he sought in his letter to his parents. He had gone to Hope and discovered there was no cabin and that Mechele was not there. Hope is a small community that would have noticed strangers and renovations of cabins. The Hope Note was five days before Kent died. His letter to his parents was only two days before his death. He clearly indicates his desire for revenge but does not indicate what actions on Mechele's, John's, or Scott's part make him think they want to kill him. He just wanted revenge for Mechele's rejecting him.

michelle said...

It's sad but true. People focus on that small slice of her past (the dancing), because frankly, it makes for a "good story". It's terribly sad. I myself, danced for a short time in my early 20's to pay my way through college - as do MANY women. More than most people would ever guess....My heart goes out to Mechele and her family!

Diana said...


I pray that you will be released. You are beautiful and bright and misunderstood obviously. Unfortunately being around the wrong people has caused you to be "wrongfully" accused of something you did not do. There is hope that you can get out of this. Pray to God everyday to give you strength and to lead you through this rough valley. You are in my prayers. Sincerely, Diana

Turtlepace said...

When I was in college and on a date, I picked up what I thought was a ring from a soft drink can and gave it to my girlfriend saying "Here's a wedding ring. Put it on." She thought it was a soft drink can ring also, but her mother saw it for what it really was--a small silver ring with four diamonds in it. Honest! I accidentally gave my college girlfriend a wedding ring. Maybe that was high romance, but it didn't obligate her to marry me just because she had accepted a diamond ring from me.

Hekela said...

It is not fair that a woman who worked to support herself is labeled evil because of the job title. Everyone works to support themselves (well, not everyone but you understand). She was labeled money manipulative because of the place she worked. The fact that she worked and paid for her own home is wonderful!! I know many dancers who put themselves through college, got themselves and their children out of horrible situations or just worked to live and were very good people. They went on to have normal, productive lives. That a woman can be convicted of murder with no concrete evidence just because she was an exotic dancer (which is a legal profession in USA) is an atrocious occurance!!!

Turtlepace said...

In spite of reports of Kent Leppink's death, I have difficulty keeping my comments concerning him in the past tense. His following Mechele and Scott to Mississippi and invading their bedroom sounds like stalking to me. His stealing the Hope Note and the other personal documents that were found in his car sound like stalking to me. His use of the word "love" sounds selfish and like stalking. But he has managed to do something I had never heard of a stalker doing. He has possessed Mechele in the prison of his so-called love after his own death. And that's in the present tense.

Bmialone said...

Colin, I am truly sorry your family continues to be victimized by the media as its members race to the bottom for ratings.

Adding to the discussion among the previous posters are these facts:

Alaska used to advertise far and wide for dancers and those ads always said, "No experience necessary." Well, generally it is only the young who have no experience so it is the young Alaskan businesses wanted to hire to dance. Yet, Mechele was punished for taking them up on their offer.

As pointed out, Mechele was a dancer for only a- year-and-half out of her entire life, yet that is how all media reports refer to her and when they do say anything about her other accomplishments, it is phrased as though her life contributing positively to her community and family is the aberration. Her job as a dancer was a big deal to the troopers, overly-focused on by the cold case investigator, and harped on by the prosector as though the rest of her life was an act of some kind.

Both John and Kent had a lot of money when Mechele met them, so if she was truly a gold-digger, she would not have kept dancing to save money for college and then paid her own way. If she were only after their money, she would have quit dancing immediately and one or both of them would have been paying her tuition and expenses for college.

The gun disappearing and reappearing and at least one other obvious suspect in the mix means the troopers and the cold case investigator Chose to ignore another much more plausible scenario in order to go after Mechele. The investigators ignored a pile of evidence that pointed Away from John as well.

In response to the statement that if she committed the crime she should be in prison, it is important to remember of what Mechele was actually accused. She was not accused of shooting Kent. The investigators and the prosecutor knew that she was not even in the state when the crime occurred.

Mechele was accused of conspiring to commit a murder. However, because the statute of limitations had run out, they could not charge her with that. The cold case lead investigator wanted to nail her regardless, so she made up a wild scenario that included Mechele controlling these older men to the point that she had total power over them and could make them commit unspeakable crimes. Doofus troopers ate up the titillating story, didn't bother to investigate properly, and then repeated the story, loaded with negative adjectives describing Mechele and her motives as though they were proven fact versus conjecture, over and over again to the press.

Why make up such a wild story? So the prosecutor could justify charging Mechele with murder. They charged her for the same crime and handed down the same sentence as the person they actually accused and convicted of committing the murder. The only way to justify it was to argue that Mechele was in control, pulling the strings of her puppet, the shooter. (Although, thinking, ethical people would not accept it as justification.)

Despite the ludicrous fantasy of the Lolita so seductive she could completely control men much older than she, Mechele was sentenced to 99 years as if she herself had pulled the trigger! That isn't right even with evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she conspired. The prosecutor did not have the evidence to prove conspiracy, but if he had, then that is the only crime for which she should have been sentenced.

To charge Mechele with murder and sentence her exactly the same as if she had committed the murder when, in fact, no one claimed she did, and as if they hadn't already sentenced someone else for it, is insane and frightening.

What kind of a system files a charge like that merely because the prosecutor can't charge a person with conspiring or with being an accessory, creates a story beyond believability and lacking sound psychological support (even disputed by the expert witness brought in), and in the face of a ton of evidence contradicting the charge, hands down a 99 year sentence? A misogynist, professionally incestuous, isolated system, that's what kind.

A lead investigator wanting to make a splash with her new cold case unit's first case, backwater Barney Fife troopers, a judge that I'd bet my last dollar has secrets of his own that includes anger towards women, a jury made up mostly of women puritanically punishing the accused for her past enticing presence among them, all came together like a perfect storm in a community that is misogynist and ignorant enough to let them get away with it.

You don't think so? Then think about this: There is a good looking young man in Anchorage accused of kidnapping, torturing, raping, and murdering a woman in her early fifties. The police have him on video trying to get money out of a cash machine with her debit card After she disappeared, he was a neighbor of hers, his DNA was in her car, and they found some of her things in his home, as well as some other evidence. He was actually acquitted of a similar crime a few years before. He has a violent history with an old girlfriend who was also older than he, so it appears he has a thing about older women. Now, am I the only who does not realize that is a tabloid heaven story? Yet, I can't tell you a single thing about his childhood or much else about his history, and I read the newspaper almost every single day. My husband reads it every day. The amount of media reporting on his case and on him personally has been Miniscule compared to the coverage Mechele received before John's trial, throughout his trial, and throughout her trial, pretty much guaranteeing she was not going to get a fair trial in this backwater, isolated place.

I don't think his case should get the tabloid treatment either; no one's should because not only is it cruel, but it makes it harder for people to get fair trials and that perverts our justice system. The point is, the difference in how the Alaskan media has treated his case compared to how they treated Mechele's is Glaring.

Recently I read that another man in a different Alaska community was convicted of kidnapping and trying to rape a woman. His intentions were very ugly, but she got away. He got 13 years. Misogyny.

Bmialone said...

Regarding Snapped: Perhaps a letter should go to Oprah Winfrey, as she is one of the founders of the Oxygen network. In fact, three of the four founders are women, and the Chairperson/CEO is a woman. Perhaps they need to hear about this misogynist tragedy set in Palin's backwoods Alaska (the same Palin whose macho husband interferes in her role as governor; calls and chews out people, including reporters, who say anything he doesn't like; offends legislators by using her office like it is his own; is part of the official email loop so state business is CCd to him; and so on) and how their network is contributing to the downfall of a woman, mostly because she is a woman. Maybe they should know what the culture is like here for women and that they are participating in it via their network.

They are listed here:

Turtlepace said...

Kent Leppink wrote his letter to his parents three days after he stole the Hope Note. If Kent really thought Mechele, John, or Scott were conspiring to murder him, how did the Hope Note "lure" him back to Hope? Kent is the first person to express the conspiracy. His unsubstantiated accusation hung over the trials as a sacred myth. The assumed conspiracy of one defendent could not be challenged in the trial of the other defendent without cries of outrage at speaking ill of the deceased.

Turtlepace said...

I do think at a turtle's pace. I know I already read following from Kent's letter to his parents:
"I wanted to marry Mechele. If that would have happened, this (letter) would have been destroyed. I have kept it as my 'insurance policy.' Use it! I'll rest easier."
I hadn't noticed that if Kent would have destroyed the letter on Mechele's marrying him, he had to have premeditated framing her for murder long before he sent the letter to his parents. Probably he wrote it before he stole the Hope Note since that wild goose chase seems to have decided him on dying. It also means he had more time to arrange for an accomplice in an assisted suicide.

mom in WA said...

What a sad commentary on society this case is - this woman was convicted because of her past profession.

Any rational human in the right state of mind must be able to admit (if only to one's self) having some history of being guilty of having poor judgment or making what would now be called mistakes.

It's a pitiful testament to the justice system of our great country that Mechele was convicted - when, clearly, the verdict was based on her lifestyle at the time of Kent's death. Imagine if all of our citizens with a "shady" (as it were) past or history were to be convicted of crimes based only on timeline symmetry....

Sad. I am appalled that this verdict and sentence hasn't already been overturned.

Turtlepace said...

Mechele Linehan was not convicted of murder. She was convicted of being manipulative and seductive. In other words, Mechele Linehan was convicted of doing her job well. It's hypocritical to attract a young woman with such rewards and then to scorn her because she accepts the gifts lavished on her. Did Kent Leppink think he could buy a bride? Was Mechele Linehan also convicted because she refused to give up her independence and subject herself to Kent Leppink?

alaskansheilah said...

Hi Dr. Linehan,

I'm sure happy to see you're still standing by Mechele. I've taken the liberty of writing directly to Mechele, but I think you could use some support as well. At this writing, Alaska has a fine example of how the Govt. might frame and/or railroad a person just to have a won court case notched on their belt...Our very own finest....Sen. Ted Stevens (anyone serving that long deserves the title for life)

I have to say that I wasn't impressed by the presentation of her case by Fitzgerald. Perhaps it was Mecheles request, but down playing her former profession, and her not speaking up to defend herself didn't do her any favors. And she should have been adamantly counseled against it, and prepared properly.

It came off as though she didn't want to believe the public might have realized that working as a stripper may have been the only means avail. to her to attain the money for the education she dreamed long and hard for without having to go into insurmountable debt. The first non-native women in Alaska were prostitutes, HELLO! Everybody loves the underdog make good story! Made her look shady trying to hush up her past.

Most women in her position would be proudly prancing to the "FANCY" song by Bobby Gentry playing in their heads with the "LOOK AT ME NOW" attitude, esp if on trial for something she didn't do! She was misrepresented.

Alaskans definitely know that sometimes, the only way to get a leg up in life, just might involve doing things one loathes to do. Gives us character. Mechele was robbed of that strength of character, and frailty of the fact perhaps she had a dream she was desperate for. An education. No one with any heart would hang her for THAT!

But even the worst of us have limitations...She was a star, made mega bucks, why would she have to manipulate a man to kill for her?

And why would she? She was young, beautiful, talented, and smart, had a portion of the world at her feet. A smart girl knows a million dollars turns into 1/2 a mil thanks to the IRS, and then they weave it she had an accomplice to split it with again? For $250K nobody making $500 to $700 a night would consider. Drunk, drugged or otherwise. It's possible she "fantasized" but reality sank in didn't it? And didn't she flee from involvement in such madness?

THEN, there was the fact others might have noticed these men, both at least 13 to 16 years older than she, just entering adulthood might have been a little "off" a little controlling?

Then, there were no references to the "victim", I'm sure many knew that fisherman from all the local watering holes. Referred to in media as shy? Maybe more calculating than people realize.
It's said; "The quiet ones are the ones to watch for".

One might want a detective to check out some of the good old time regulars at two Bars called the Fly Inn and the Oasis just down the road from the Bush Company. There's bound to be someone left from the crowd of the day... Strip joints discourage lovers, husbands and fiance's from hanging out on the premises. But the men usually like being w/in calling distance. Cops know this where's their report?

Who was really strung along? John Collin III had a theory that might not be too far from the facts. (Note: He was murdered in jail)

Then Leppink was a fisherman, I've yet to meet a fisherman in Alaska that's saintly. They do have the reputation to be a rowdy crowd, hard drinkers and more! FACT! Did he play himself off as a man more to her taste eh? Quiet, reserved businessman. Who filled him in?

How could a jury of Alaskans form a guilty verdict?!

Esp. w/Kent's mom's haunting testimony, I don't know how I could have helped myself from at least hanging that jury. It may even be the law: One has the moral obligation to flee eminent danger if one knows it's there and no one else is jeopardized. But a man trained on the treacherous waters of Alaska ignored "Personal Safety First"? The Law of all waters?!

Kent Leppink knew that going to Hope would get him killed, told his mom too but soften it to a maybe? She begged him not to go repeatedly, yet insisted on going. He KNEW THAT, not just suspected as the prosecution alluded to. And was he found with his insurance policy on his dead person?

This VERY GLARING Testimony constitutes a reasonable doubt in both trials! It really does point to a suicidal angle. Had she literally asked him to rock climb the highest sheer wall along the Seward Hwy. and jump from the top because she just wasn't going to be his, would he have used that as the motivation to kill himself? If his policy would have paid up, you betcha!

Crazy people under the influence do some wicked things.
Suggested Reading for anyone who cares to: "A Scottish Murder" by Jimmy Powdrell Campbell. It's a true story about a "murder" during the life of one Madelein Smith. If you're reading this, just google her name, the bio isn't anywhere near as good as the book.

Just remember Dr. Linehan, "This too shall pass". In eternal terms, even one's whole life is but a flash...Keep the faith, the time you faithfully wait may well be shorter than you imagine. Truth will out!