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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Editorial: An Open Letter to Larry King

It's time to set the record straight. Because Larry King sure as hell won't.
On Wednesday night the Source received a call asking that we provide a "balanced" perspective to a news story Larry King was covering. The story? Jamie Cockayne's brutal stabbing death on St. John.
As a journalist, it is always difficult to decide to expose oneself in the media. The decision was made on behalf of a community that is being held hostage by a constant barrage of, at best, mainstream media misinformation that plays into the melodrama of today's television infotainment.
So, given literally 30 seconds to respond to a manipulative, deliberately inflammatory question, we say, "Yes, to the best of our knowledge the police are doing what they are supposed to be doing in the Jamie Cockayne homicide investigation." How's that for a great way to lure viewers and entice advertisers?
Needless to say, we were excluded from the rest of the show.
We don't blame the Cockaynes. They are grieving people who are lashing out in their rage and sorrow.
But we, as a publication that doesn't need to sell itself, that can back up its readership with real numbers, that doesn't need to suck in readers with phony headlines and myth-mongering, are going to lay it on the line. Be forewarned: it's not very sexy.
Here is what's true and what's not, to the best of our informed knowledge. I hope you read this, Mr. King, if ever you really wanted a balanced story.
True: Virgin Islands police refuse to jeopardize the case by trying it in the media.
True: Under the new administration of Gov. John deJongh Jr., the police and the attorney general work closely together on all major crimes in order to better assure successful prosecutions; thus no big leaks or irresponsible comments that are going to prejudice every potential juror in this U.S. territory.
True: Two people have been arrested and there are more to come.
True: Virgin Islanders want our visitors to have the same protection we have against this kind of tragedy.
False: Police have not called in federal agencies for assistance. Anyone who has ever spoken with our police commissioner knows that is his philosophy to do so, and he did, early on.
False: Police have not gathered all the evidence available in this case.
False: Only one person has been arrested.
False: Virgin Islands officials have not made themselves fully available to the Cockayne family.
False: Virgin Islanders aren't interested in getting to the bottom of what happened that night.
It is also not true that Larry King and his producers at CNN were interested in presenting a balanced report on this matter. What is true is that he, and so many like him who think of themselves as journalists, are more invested in pumping up the bottom line for the corporations they work for by sensationalizing the "news."
Most unfortunately, it is also true that V.I. Sen. Liston Davis was absolutely correct when he said if it were a black man who was killed, there would be nothing like the national coverage this story has gotten.
How can we say that?
Remember Leon Roberts and Tristan Charlier, the two New York tourists murdered on St. Thomas two years ago? Their families also engaged the media in their search for justice.
These were New Yorkers! Where was Larry King then? Where was Anderson Cooper then?
Where was FOX News then?
Nowhere to be found. You see, Leon and Tristan were black.
We have no doubt the police will arrest all the perpetrators in Jamie Cockayne's killing. But after all the national hype and rumors and false accusations, we wonder if it will be possible to actually find a jury to try them.
The even sadder truth is this: The Larry Kings of the world won't care a year from now. But we will, because if the perpetrators are not brought to justice, guess where they will live? Right here.
Editors note:We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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