October 12, 2002

PSYCHOLOGIST HARVEY GOLDSTEIN WRITES that press and politicians are encouraging the D.C. sniper. Excerpt:

The frequent news conferences themselves seem to be a big part of the problem, mostly because they impart so little actual news. At some of these events, politicians seem to dominate. They thank the police, they thank each other and they praise the spirit of teamwork and cooperation. Are they really doing anything constructive? We are treating the sniper to a political rally on his behalf.

The news media contribute to the situation simply by paying it too much attention. Ever since the O.J. Simpson trial, competition among media outlets has created an obsession with finding "experts" to theorize about every facet of a crime. This current crisis features not attorneys but an endless stream of criminal profilers jockeying for attention, further gratifying the killer. Those experts appearing on TV and radio during the crisis, speculating on every aspect of the criminal's life and behavior patterns, need to ask themselves whether there is any utility in bolstering his arrogance.