After Tot’s Death in Car, a Trial by Social Media


The Washington Post looks at the media and social media reaction to the June 18 death of a toddler left in a hot car in Georgia by his father, Justin Harris, who has been charged with felony murder. On social media, many are demanding that the child’s mother, Leanna Harris, be charged, as well. It is another example of the new role of social and news media, which can instantaneously anoint heroes and damn villains based on little information.

TV broadcasters and social-media conspirators have pieced together a disparate assortment of words, expressions, tidbits dropped by police — who have not charged Leanna Harris with anything — and innuendo, all of which suggested she might have had something to do with murder. “Newspapers, television and online media have fostered a poisonous atmosphere in which Leanna's every word, action and emotion — or failure to cry in front of a crowd — is scrutinized for some supposed hidden meaning,” said her attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman.

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