Life is not so good these days for the prosecutor in the Central Park jogger case:
For much of her life, Linda Fairstein was widely viewed as a law enforcement hero.
As one of the first leaders of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit, later the inspiration for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” she became one of the best known prosecutors in the country. She went on to a successful career as a crime novelist and celebrity former prosecutor, appearing on high-profile panels and boards.
But since last Friday and the premiere of “When They See Us,” Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series about the Central Park jogger case, Ms. Fairstein has become synonymous with something else: The story of how the justice system wrongly sent five black and Latino teenagers to prison for a horrific rape....
In the last few days, online petitions and a hashtag, #CancelLindaFairstein, have called for a boycott of her books and her removal from prominent board positions. After a barrage of criticism directed at her on Twitter, she took her own account down. And she resigned this week from the boards of several organizations including Safe Horizon and the Joyful Heart Foundation, which aid victims of sexual violence, and Vassar College, her alma mater.
She's fine. She's 72 and she's had a nice life. But it's good to see that she's facing at least some serious scrutiny, especially given the fact that she's never conceded that she prosecuted the wrong people.
This is more of a reckoning than Fairstein had in 2002 when a serial rapist named Matias Reyes confessed to the attack and was found to be a DNA match. It's more than she faced in 2012 when PBS aired a documentary on the case by Ken Burns and his daughter Sarah. It took a high-profile film on the most popular streaming service in America to attract serious scrutiny to Fairstein's work on this case.
Something similar happened in the case of R. Kelly. A music journalist named Jim DeRogatis has been writing about Kelly's sexual misconduct since 2000, when he and a colleague reported the existence of a videotape in which Kelly was seen having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Kelly was found not guilty of child pornography charges in 2008.
DeRogatis wrote in 2017 that Kelly had effectively imprisoned several young women. But it wasn't until Lifetime aired the documentary series Surviving R. Kelly earlier this year that the general public really took notice of his story. Kelly is now facing serious charges of criminal sexual abuse.
Which brings me to Donald Trump.
All of us who are Trump critics are frustrated by the response to the Mueller report. Attorney General Barr's distorted summary of its contents is better known than what's actually in it, primarily because not enough people are reading it. It's not an easy read. Its language is dense and legalistic.
We'd like to see the report's conclusions restated in congressional hearings. But with the White House ordering witnesses to defy demands to testify, and Mueller himself is trying to avoid a public appearance before Congress, will hearings ever happen? Should Democrats start an impeachment proceeding in the hope that the courts will compel the release of more documents?
One of these approaches might bear fruit, but in the meantime, it would be a good thing if a major director were to cut a deal to put the Mueller report on commercial television -- not on Frontline or MSNBC, but on a basic-cable channel or (more likely) Netflix or Hulu. Turn the Mueller report into a documentary or docudrama series. Make it into must-stream TV. If that's what cuts through the clutter these days, that's what we need.
Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Adam McKay, call your agents.
Published with permission of No More Mr. Nice Blog
Editor's note (Karoli): Until one of these fine directors takes up the challenge, the Mueller Report audiobook version is free on Amazon. I highly recommend it if you don't love reading 400+ pages and the footnotes.