I consider myself lucky to rarely ever watch daytime (or any) TV on a regular basis, unless I’m being held captive at the nail salon while Dr. Phil waxes poetic on the “good bacteria” in Dannon Activia to a glassy-eyed and eerily cheery audience. On the rare occasions that I do, I am instantly reminded why I’d rather pay a Hell’s Angel to dry my nails with a blowtorch than sit still for almost an hour of the simpering, purposeless garbage that masquerades as news while failing miserably at entertainment. This week, Inside Edition provided this riveting profile of Phineas, the “dog on death row” from Salem, Missouri, whose 7-year old owner is campaigning to have the labrador released from his stay of execution over a year after he “allegedly” (lolwut?) bit her friend.
Funny, because when I do a precursory google search for Reggie Clemons, the Missouri inmate who was sentenced to death in 1991 for his alleged role in a St. Louis rape and murder and has been sitting in a cell ever since, no Inside Edition specials come up amongst the Amnesty pleas, contradictory evidence, and scant “last chance at life” headlines that provide occasional updates on his years-long appeals process. The most recent one seems to be from March of this year, in which a new witness—a state official—corroborates Clemons’ story of confessing as a result of police brutality by claiming he saw Clemons shortly after his interrogation with a golf-ball sized welt on his head, and noted as much, writing “bump” or “bruise” on the bail form to indicate as much. The trial judge had ruled that the matter was immaterial “as there was no evidence that directly implicated the police officers in causing the injuries,” however the witness’ written note was found, scratched out, on the form. Hmm. You don’t say.
Azealia Banks recently came under fire for her tweet that “They ACTUALLY put Michael Vic[k] in jail for killing some damn dogs, and they let Zimmerman free after killing an innocent child,” but her sentiment and associated tumblr statement are spot the fuck on. Not to say that 7-year-old dog owners shouldn’t fight for what they think is right, but mainstream media outlets should perhaps have the taste and good sense to devote their segments to HUMAN interest stories that highlight widespread injustice and pitifully biased state-sanctioned murder. I’m pretty sure if Phineas’s lawyer could provide the amount of evidence that Clemons’ defense has to cast doubt on his “conviction,” he’d already be enjoying a nap on the porch; then again, Phineas can afford a better lawyer than Clemons could his first time around.
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin protests and Ted Nugent’s paradoxically oppressive remarks that “blacks are responsible for their own oppression,” one might think that Inside Edition could find a better use of 3 minutes than a shallow sob story on a convicted pooch and his owner’s hand-markered posterboard sign. As of this moment, the “Save Phineas” facebook group has over 160,000 likes, while the “Justice For Reggie Clemons” page I found has just over 40 likes. This country, from juries to news segments, has officially gone to the dogs.