COL Kobe Bryant coverage faulted

Sexual assault accuser identified on Internet, talk shows

Before the deaths of Saddam Hussein's two sons, the biggest -- or at least most popular -- news story of the past month was the arrest of NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant on sexual assault charges.

Radio talk show hosts, gossip columnists, late-night TV hosts and the tabloids have all had a field day with the Bryant story. And it's shaping up to be the most famous -- or infamous -- sports crime case since O.J. Simpson was accused of killing his wife.

The high level of interest in this case doesn't come as a surprise to us. Bryant is a highly popular sports figure whom even casual or non-fans of the NBA recognize as a national celebrity. What does surprise, and disgust, us is the way the case is being handled by those outside the mainstream media.

It's long been a journalistic -- and moralistic -- taboo to name the victim of an alleged sex crime, even if it's been released by judicial or law enforcement authorities. But shortly after Bryant had been booked in Eagle, Colo., where the assault is alleged to have occurred, the victim's name, address and telephone number began popping up on Web sites.


To make matters worse, Los Angeles talk show host Tom Leykis broadcast the woman's name on his nationally syndicated program.

Thanks to people like Leykis, and an Internet-obsessed public, people all over the world now have access to a great deal of personal information about a woman who was the victim of a violent sexual attack, according to prosecutors.

Even the national mainstream media have taken coverage of this case to new lows. Network and cable news organizations haven't named the alleged victim. But they've broadcast news stories about the woman's personal life, based mostly on interviews with friends and former classmates and coworkers.

This dissemination of private information about an alleged crime victim, while not illegal, is clearly outside the realm of decency.

We hope this case will cause media organizations and Web site purveyors to take stock of the potential harm this kind of voyeuristic behavior can have on human lives.

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