Deflategate is Alice in Wonderland

Deflategate is the shorthand term given by the media's news-entertainment complex to a comical story about absolutely nothing. Its sole purpose is to entertain us -- under the guise of news -- while actually distracting us from the serious issues of the day.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for entertainment. I like football. But get a grip. A story about the weight of a football is a story about entertainment. Deflategate is not a news story about the well being of the world (such as a story about global warming or about the Israel-Palestinian conflict). Deflategate is not even a serious news story about cheating in the multi-billion dollar sports entertainment industry. If it was, facts would matter and in this entertainment story, they don't matter.

It's like we are living in Alice's fictitious Wonderland of long ago. First, we find the New England Patriots guilty of cheating by improperly deflating footballs (ostensibly to gain a competitive advantage which they didn't need and which had no effect, if done, on the outcome of the contest). Then we gather the facts and have the trial.

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote that Americans depend on "unambiguous honesties" in addressing issues (whatever the issues might be). Americans, she notes, refuse to acknowledge that all truth and honesty depend on context (facts) which create the very ambiguities that Americans seek to avoid.

In the media's news-entertainment complex, it is easier to create an entertaining Alice in Wonderland fantasy of "unambiguous honesties" (that the footballs were improperly deflated by the New England Patriots football team), without knowing virtually any of the facts. It's easier to do that than it is to collect and to judge the facts. In our Alice in Wonderland America people are left to believe what they want to believe -- the facts and due process be damned.

Until all the facts are known, the media's news-entertainment industry should leave the story alone. It should stop cheating the public by presenting the story as a serious news story about "cheating" rather than the entertainment story it is.

In an American court of law, the judge will invariably instruct jurors at the outset of a trial and throughout the trail that, until all of the facts are presented, the jurors should refrain from discussing the matter. Most importantly, they are instructed that they should decline to come to a judgment until the end of the trial when all of the facts have been collected and have been presented to them. Jurors are directed to do this because without the facts all we have are suspicions; and, according to the age old adage, "suspicion is more apt to be wrong than right; it is more apt to be unjust than just."

In the court of public opinion, we would all be better off if all of us, the media's news entertainment complex included, followed the judge's instructions.

James I. Meyerson was an Assistant General Counsel with the NAACP from 1970-1981. Since then he has maintained a civil rights practice in New York City.

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