Saturday, December 01, 2007

The hostage-taker is ... oops, never mind

Anyone teaching, concerned about or even mildly interested media ethics needs to print out the "Troy Stanley" thread on the Huffington Post.

Stanley was a person identified early as the possible hostage-taker at the Hillary Clinton campaign office in Rochester, N.H.

The Huffington Post, partly taking its cues from Fox News and partly from its own "Off the Bus" reporter, kept beating the Stanley drum. Some selected headlines and excerpts:

3:55 p.m. - Troy Stanley's Voice Mail Recording
Huffington Post tried calling Rochester, NH resident Troy Stanley today at 3:50. The phone picks up after just one ring and the caller hears, "Hello? (pause) hello? (pause) hello (pause). Leave a message. Later. (Beep)
Troy Stanley is the alleged hostage taker at one of Hillary Clinton's NH campaign headquarters.

3:59 p.m. - Troy Allen Stanley, Alleged Hillary Hostage Suspect, Arrested Earlier This Month
Troy Alan Stanley, the man alleged to have taken Hillary Clinton's Rochester, New Hampshire office hostage earlier today, has a rap sheet.
Earlier this month, on November 6, he was "arrested on a bench warrant for disorderly conduct." Stanley is 44 years old.
(Hmmm, "alleged ... suspect." Could they be any more squirrely?)

4 p.m. - Troy Stanley Charged With Criminal Trespass and Obstructing Governement Administration, August 2007

4:06 p.m. - Troy Stanley, Alleged Hillary Hostage Suspect, Arrested in September
(Another "alleged ... suspect.")

4:12 p.m. - Troy Stanley Jr Identifies His Dad
From Fox: We were told by an eyewitness that the suspect is named Troy Stanley. The eyewitness reporting this to Fox News is Cody Bennet. Cody Bennet is friends with Troy Stanley's son, Troy Stanley Jr. According to Troy Stanley Jr, his father went to a hardware story earlier in the day and bought road side flares to use as fake explosive devices.
(Now there's some strong sourcing, huh?)

4:28 p.m. - Troy Stanley: Marital And Financial Troubles, But a "Tremendous" Man Says Friend

5:06 p.m. - Troy Stanley Has Been Sleeping In The Woods

5:10 p.m. - Troy Stanley: Tales From His Neighbors
Huffington Post is getting eye witness accounts saying the alleged hostage taker Troy Stanley recently made a cross out of duct tape and put it up. He was evicted this morning from his apartment complex. Neighbors who did not wish to give their names told an Off the Bus reporter Bryan Bissell:
"You can hear him preaching to himself through the wall."
"You'll hear him at four in the morning going off on himself every morning."
"He runs his water 24 hours a day in his apartment," said a downstairs neighbor whose apartment flooded.
Pictures coming
OTB Bryan Bissell went to Troy Stanley's apartment, where Mr. Stanley opened the door. He then began talking about the Kennedy assassination.

Those last two posts came after Huffington Post reported at 4:58 that CNN reported that the hostage-taker might actually be a man named Leeland Eisenberg.

5:23 p.m. - Troy Stanley's Ex-Wife: Stanley "Diagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenic" Not Taking His Meds
At 5:16, Carl Cameron of Fox News said he spoke to Troy Stanley's ex-wife of 20 years, who reported that Stanley is "a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who has not been taking his meds." His medicinal regimen includes lithium, but he has not been taking it recently.
Then, at 5:53 p.m. comes this:
Troy Stanley Not Suspect In Hillary Clinton Hostage Incident
OffTheBus correspondent Bryan Bissell has confirmed that Troy Stanley Sr., previously associated with taking hostages at Hillary Clinton's Rochester office, is not connected with the incident.
Contacted at his residence at Sofield Apartments, Mr. Stanley, Sr. confirmed his identity and declined further comment. A call to police verified that Mr. Stanley was not a suspect.
(But wait, what about that update to the 5:10 post. Do you mean to say your crack reporter talked to all the neighbors and only then did he knock on Stanley's door? One assumes that had he done that first, and had he seen Mr. Stanley, it would have been fairly easy to conclude that Mr. Stanley was not a suspect, since his being in two places at once was unlikely.

6:40 p.m. - Leeland Eisenberg, Alleged Hillary Hostage Suspect, Taken Into Custody
See photos of the alleged suspect Leeland Eisenberg being taken into custody by police officers.
(And, of course, there's that "alleged suspect" again. He's a suspect or he isn't. Alleged has no place there.)

At 8:05 p.m. Huffington Post had the cheekiness to put up this: Fox News: We Report (The Names Of Two People), You Decide (Who Is Actually The Suspect)
The HuffPo, of course, takes no responsibility for sucking the teet of Fox and spreading the crap, and even augmenting it with its own reports.
In fact, it almost takes credit for breaking that the suspect was NOT Troy Stanley: "This news broke around 5:50 pm on HuffPo, CNN, E&P and Fox News ..."
Except, of course, for the inconvenient fact, as noted above, that the HuffPo's own thread shows that it had CNN's reporting that it was someone else as early as 4:58 p.m. and still kept piling on Stanley.
Most of the 8:05 post chides Fox for getting this all wrong, including still having a wrong "super" up with Stanley's name.

Not-so-secretly, I wish Stanley could sue Fox and HuffPo back to the stone age over this. For many reasons, it probably won't happen. But it should serve as a widely publicized lesson over how this age of instant communication, where the "echo chamber" effect is becoming more and more prominent in the era of instant news, the dangers grow.

No, I am not of the school that says blogs and such instant media should be shut down or heavily curtailed. Even if I did support it, that genie is already long gone from the bottle, and no attempt to put it back in will work. It's so much useless hand-wringing.

About the only thing that will work for this kind of irresponsibility is wide public shame and unrelenting emphasis on ethics, caution and common sense as we help shape the minds and values of young journalists. In an era where the pressure to get it fast and first continues to grow, this will be harder and harder (and yes, I purposefully left out "get it right" from that phrase).

So I challenge all of you to make sure this disgrace is widely publicized and studied. If you need a PDF of the post thread, I have it and will gladly share. I leave you with the comment of one person responding to the HuffPo's "Fox News" item:

I know you want to shift all the blame onto Fox News, but you know what guys?

You are partly responsible for publicly humiliating a man. It was pretty disgusting what you guys participated in. Maybe you didn't start it, but you're not excused. You really should take some credit and apologize in some fashion.

Just as the Main Stream media should apologize for helping contribute to the lead up to the war and shaping public opinion in favor of it.

I hope that you don't take their path, and try to pretend you had nothing to do with it.

Who says our readers don't know more than we do?

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At 12/2/07, 3:26 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Hostage standoff matter...

For the record, Troy Stanley's name was inadvertently publicized nationwide by a frenzy of news hungry media agencies who didn't know what they were talking about.

I attended high school and carried on a great friendship with Troy and his late brother Jeff. Through Jeff and Troy I met their remaining family members, both from one of the finest families you could ever want to meet.

I have been out of touch with Troy for several years, therefore can not comment on his mental state of being.

I find the actions in this matter taken by the news media as being unprofessional, offensive, and substantially lacking knowledge. The information reported did not have the much needed substance in bringing accurate and up to date information to us the people who want to know.

I can only hope that Troy Stanley and his family will pursue this matter to the fullest extent of the law in having their name cleared publicly.

To have their name spattered over millions of televisions across the country is a travesty.

Jim Marden
Edmonds, WA.

At 3/4/10, 9:49 PM, Blogger David said...

It is a shame Troy is my uncle by a marriage that happened well before my time. In other words Ive known him my whole life. He was a great family man that like alot of men got involved with the wrong woman. This along with finding his brother Jeff (another very good man) dead in his house unexpectedly then his father (my grandfather) dying put him through some very tough times. Which unfortunately there was no one left in his life to help him. It a shame that the media is able to ruin not only a persons name but a families name without consequence if anything repay the man and his family by getting him the help he needs

At 11/30/15, 8:14 PM, Blogger Christi Stanley said...

I have never read or heard about this Blog but I am so glad I have come across it. My name is Christi Stanley, I am Troy's Stanley's youngest daughter and I am So proud to be. My sister, Brother and I have always been proud to be his kids and would never want it any other way. What happened to my father that day was disgusting, and was just so crazy when I read this it brought it all back. Nobody from the news or radio wanted to hear the truth, I knew it wasn't my father down there due to the fact I had went to his home when all this craziness was sitting in his apartment minding his own business. Cody Bennett that kid is a joke, he said he was good friends with my brother troy JR and had just spoke with him that afternoon saying it was my dad. Cody Bennett was far from my brothers friend more like a bully from high school who wanted attention, my brother never told anyone it was my father. My mother who at that time my parents were in the middle of a nasty divorce in which my dad was mentally sick and my mother a drug user who got most his hard earned money was the only one downtown Rochester screaming (is that my husband, is it troy Stanley) like she cared as her 20 something year old druggie boyfriend was on her arms. My point is everything about that day was a load of crap and lies, people fro Rochester who wanted attention and didn't care that they slandered my fathers name in the process. I still have a lot of anger from that day as it was along time ago I was 17 at the time. I am now 25 years old, my Father is completely Mentally Stable, Thanks to his strength and a long road he is doing great, he is a grandfather and an amazing one at that. My point in posting a comment is I wish none of that happened talk about kicking a man when he is down, he still has this incident attached to his name, even my brother troy will get asked if it was him. I wish my dad would have sued the crap out of all those news stations but getting him mentally stable was the first thing and the only thing we care about. we laugh it off now. But anyways Thank you to wrote this blog and calling out the idiots who caused all this mess!! Thank you we enjoyed reading your blog :)

At 12/2/15, 7:35 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Christi, I'm sorry that you and your family went through this. I am a Rochester native, although I migrated to the West Coast shortly after high school in 1979. Your Dad and I knew each other well and I sure do miss the hell out of one of my best friends, your late Uncle Jeff. I couldn't believe the news I was hearing that day when the media claimed it was your Dad Troy and was quite surprised to see your post so many years later. Give your Mom and Dad a big hug for me ... tell them it's from Marty Farty ... they will know who I am. Happy Holidays Christi! Jim Marden


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