Media Bias?

Posted on February 13, 2011 

            Unfortunately, when there was a change in format, several blogs from this time last year were lost.  Before I start re-indexing these blogs of the disappearance of Ray Gricar, there are several that I should repost, in some cases with updates.

            One thing that I’ve seen on a few message boards is the charge of media bias in Gricar case.  The first claim is that all the media, not just the Centre Daily Times, were “pushing suicide,” as the case was breaking.  The second claim was that the media was “pushing walkaway.”   I want to take a look at both of these claims.

            Let’s start with suicide.  Where did this come from?  Mr. Gricar’s family and friends.  Tony Gricar wrote in February of 2008, “A very large percentage of us (the family and office) really thought that he was in the river, given the similarities to my Father.”1 There are some other more contemporary examples.  More than six months after his uncle vanished, Tony Gricar noted the supposed similarities between the site his father’s suicide and Lewisburg. 2  Even much later, “While we're on the subject, some of the divers that I have spoken to indicated that there would be no problem for the Susq[uehanna] to conceal a body for quite some time due to the vast number of undercuts of earth along the river's edges and in the islands.” 3 He said it in mid-August of 2007.  As of 2011, he admits to the unlikelihood that his uncle’s body was ever in the river.8

            Was it unusual for Tony Gricar to think this was suicide?   No, his father and Mr. Gricar’s brother, Roy Gricar had committed suicide, by drowning in a river.  Depression can run in families and can lead to suicide, as can be seen in the famous family of Ernest Hemingway.4  Further, the death of a parent can be a traumatic event and can shape a person’s thinking.  I can understand why it was both Tony Gricar’s initial thought and why it shaped his long term view of his uncle’s disappearance. 

            It wasn’t just Tony Gricar thinking suicide.  A State Police profiler reached that conclusion.5  While not released, it might have affected the investigation; the police were searching the Susquehanna repeatedly, obviously not looking for a live person.  While it could have been murder, there was a lot pointing to suicide.  Further, there was no evidence of murder.   What ultimately weakened suicide as a theory was the lack of a body.

            Those close to Mr. Gricar thought it was suicide.  The police, in large part, were looking for a corpse; that is not exclusively indicative of suicide, but it was clearly an option.  The media reported what was happening.  Was the media coverage responsible for any of this?  No, the media reported it, but they were not generating the news. 

            Now we move to walkaway.  The witness sighting of a “Mystery Woman” was not reported immediately.  It may have mentioned on the old Q and A sight, and was mentioned in the Renner article, it wasn’t in the printed CDT until the police and the District Attorney emphasized it in May of 2006.  The possibility pointed away from suicide and toward either walkaway or murder.

The police had, and probably still have, information that pointed away from murder from the first two weeks of the investigation.  The most obvious are the Wilkes-Barrie witnesses.  While this reported, it wasn’t reported that one of the witnesses was an off duty police officer, in town from his southeastern Pennsylvania home; from what I understand, he was something beyond a patrol officer.  He noticed the man, who he identified as Mr. Gricar, was smoking, but didn’t look like a regular smoker; the scent of cigarette smoke and ash found in the Mini had yet to be reported.  The man was a very credible witness and his sighting was confirmed by the bartender, independently.  When that was finally revealed that the second witness was a police officer, it was more than three and a half years later, and it didn’t make headlines.

            The witness sightings are also something that could point to a voluntary act.   We know now that there are reports of Mr. Gricar early in the afternoon, around lunchtime, in Lewisburg as well as late in the afternoon, 4:00 PM being the earliest.  When were the last of these reported?  “McKnight’s Witness” was reported on July 1, 2008; the two parking lot witnesses, who saw Mr. Gricar moving the Mini Cooper in the parking lot where it was found, about one or two days after that.  When these things came out, they were reported.

            Two potential leads came from the Internet, 20/20 Vision and Mel Wiley.  When discovered to have some basis, that Mr. Gricar read the 20/20 Vision and had discussed the Wiley case well after the fact, they were reported.

            Then there are the reports concerning the laptop.  Mr. Gricar, about two years prior to having to return it, asked about erasing it.  One of the people he asked was someone not on staff, not a close friend, and not a family member; he also did searches on his desktop on how to do it.  This was actually so under-reported that many in the chattering class, that breath the Gricar case, missed the story.  Likewise, the Southfield sighting was under-reported and barely received notice by the chattering class when it happened (and for years afterward).

            Again, there wasn’t any pushing, just reporting.  With the one exception, that there were no readable prints in the Mini, what has come out points away from murder.  I think it is worth noting that one exception.  It is possible someone else drove the Mini after the various witnesses saw Mr. Gricar driving it.

Well, that is what I said last year.  Since that time, we have seen one effort to slant the story in favor of walkaway, exclusively.  That was the Nancy Grace American’s Missing,8 which I wrote about here:  Grace Note  That was one story out of the scores of stories over almost six years that was biased toward voluntary departure.  In fairness to Ms. Grace, in past shows on the Gricar case, she was not biased in favor of walkaway.  Ironically, the one bit of evidence that tipped my scales in favor of the theory that Mr. Gricar did leave voluntarily was not mentioned.

            We do hear about “media bias” from some in the chattering class, but in reality, there are very few examples of it.  When they do pop up, I will be critical of them as well.

           

End Notes

 

1  http://boards.insessiontrials.com/showthread.php?p=11310441#post11310441

 

2 CFT, 11/16/05  http://crimeshots.com/forums/showthread.php?t=811&page=2

 

3 http://boards.insessiontrials.com/showthread.php?p=10286431#post10286431

 

4 Famed author Ernest Hemingway, who committed suicide, had a father, brother, sister and granddaughter, model and actress Margaux, also committed suicide.  http://research.hrc.utexas.edu:8080/hrcxtf/view?docId=ead/00327.xml

 

5 CDT, 5/13/06 http://www.centredaily.com/news/ray_gricar/story/3802.html

 

6 CDT , 4/15/09 http://www.centredaily.com/news/ray_gricar/story/1228995.html

 

7  The transcript of the show is here:  http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1101/26/ng.02.html

 

8  http://www.aolnews.com/2011/01/25/case-of-missing-pa-district-attorney-ray-gricar-baffles-police/

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-mail J. J. in Phila at scorg@live.com

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