So I'm guessing I know what story is going to be dominating headlines in St. John's for the next few days. And it isn't going to be what Loyola Hearn is going to do as Fisheries Minister and it isn't going to be Bill Barry swooping to the rescue in Harbour Breton. Not when there is a teenage sex ring operating in town.
You know, I'm not going to comment on the sex ring yet because there isn't enough information out there about what's happening. But I do want to comment on an element of the story from CBC National. Interestingly, the local CBC cut the rant by RNC Chief Richard Deering. It was there this afternoon, but as I type this, it's gone.
VOCM kept it though.
As I understand it, there have been rumours for weeks in St. John's about a sex ring trafficking in possible prostitution and pornography in St. John's. They're girls and they're underage. The RNC admits they've been investigating for two weeks and there are 10 officers on the case.
From what I saw on CBC Newsworld at lunch time, local reporters have known something was going on and have been hunting the story for a few weeks as well. But all hell broke loose yesterday when a parent of one of the girls called VOCM's Open Line and talked about some aspect of it. Deering calls in and confirms an investigation, but won't give any details.
This morning, The Telegram runs front page with what they have, which isn't much, but certainly is eye-catching. Deering calls a press conference in the morning, gives a bit more information and then blasts the media saying it has jeopardized the investigation. By going with what they have, the suspects may destroy evidence or run.
I have three words for Deering: "Bullshit." That's followed by "Bite me."
Where to begin. OK, with the "harm" to the investigation. You know what, when someone goes on Open Line, of all shows, I think it's safe to say the suspects probably know they're in it deep, especially when the Chief of Police pops up shortly afterwards and confirms there is an investigation.
So saying The Media (ie. The Telegram) have jeopardized their investigation is foolishness. The rumour was out there. Someone goes on Open Line. Deering comments. I think the jig was up, b'ys, well before The Telegram went to press.
Next, I find it hard to sympathize for the RNC because they have so frequently in the past acted in a massively uncooperative and occasionally vindictive manner. Go ahead, ask a reporter in the city how easy the RNC is to deal with. CBC has horror stories. The Telegram has horror stories. The Independent has them. The Express has them. Maybe not NTV, because they keep getting those ride alongs with RNC that they can get three part series out of.
The Express time in purgatory came after we did a couple of critical stories and one especially, I admit, harsh editorial. We were then blacklisted. We know this because officers told us off the record. Their names were not allowed to appear in the paper, even on an unrelated to police work matter, or else management were going to give them shit. Calls were not returned. We were removed from their press release list so when little things like sexual assults were happening, we were having problems covering the story because we weren't getting the information from the police.
The day Deering leaves the RNC, the media will be the ones throwing him the good-bye party.
One other thing. Deering snipes that the media didn't really have a right to the story. Sorry, Richard, but the days of the St. John's media giving the RNC the benefit of the doubt to do the right thing, especially with regards to a case involving sex crimes, pretty much died around the time Mount Cashel finally broke.
If Deering doesn't like it,too bad. Get a thicker skin or get a new job. I don't particularly care which it is.
One last thing, one site online that's going to be interesting to watch, as this develops is Blue Kaffee. It's a site for local youth to talk about different issues. It'll be interesting to see what crops up there in the coming weeks. I suspect the people who post there are going to have a different perspective on things, not to mention information.
40 Licks - The Rolling Stones.