WaPo digs into life of man sentenced by Brown Jackson, neglects one hugely important word in headline

The left-wing media attempted to “sympathize” with and “humanize” a sex offender in their efforts to bend over backward defending the reputation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, downplaying the “egregious” details.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, concluded this week. One of the key subjects in the days of questioning pertained to Jackson’s sentencing record, particularly in regard to child sex offenders.

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC), Ted Cruz (TX), and Josh Hawley (MO) all pressed the judge on her history of providing sentences that were below the established guidelines and requests from the prosecuting attorneys, often by a considerable amount. While committee chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) endeavored to protect the judge from answering certain questions, the defense from the press has been far worse.

The Washington Post published an article Friday after one of its investigative reporters tracked down the defendant from the shortest sentence that Jackson had issued. Wesley Hawkins had been given a sentence of three months in prison, three months of home detention and then six years of supervision for his possession of child pornography.

Note how the headline from the Post, “Wesley Hawkins, talk of the Jackson hearings, describes life after pornography sentence,” left out the word on the specific nature of the pornography.

The internet didn’t miss it.

Throughout the article, reporter Aaron C. Davis appeared to do everything he could to create a sympathetic viewpoint of Hawkins. In the opening paragraph, he pointed out how the defendant was a teenager at the time and that it was ancient history that the Republicans had drudged up by using his name “more than 30 times over three days to try and paint Jackson as dangerously soft on crime.”

After considerable buildup, the Post finally provided a brief description of Hawkins’ offenses including the “17 videos and 16 images” that included “prepubescent boys engaged in sex acts.”

In her argument for the sentence, Jackson cited the young age of Hawkins, 18 at the time of his offenses, and the close proximity of the victims which she considered “seems to be a situation in which you were fascinated by sexual images involving what were essentially your peers. And, as the psychological report concluded, there’s no reason to believe that you are a pedophile or that you pose any risk to children.”

Those “peers” included boys aged 8, 11, and 12.

The Post wasn’t the only outlet guilty of this sort of coverage of Hawkins’ case. The New York Times also tried to qualify and even normalize the behavior of the defendant painting him as a confused high school student.

“A gay boy from a religious family that strongly disapproved of homosexuality, Mr. Hawkins was driven by a kind of curiosity about the images and his connection to the people in them seemed, his lawyer said, to be ‘one identifying’ rather than of ‘exploiting them sexually'” the Times wrote.

They pointed out the “extremely disturbing” nature of the images that Hawkins had reposted, not just viewed, before continuing to defend the lenient sentence from Jackson.

“I was a troubled young man what was sexually confused,” Hawkins told the Post before adding, “I went online to other young people who had these images. That’s how it came about.”

The most notable absence from this piece attempting to normalize the behavior of Hawkins and thereby justify the sentence from Jackson is the lack of acknowledgement of the harm brought upon the victims.


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Kevin Haggerty


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