Erin Cox Case: The Rush to Judgement Is a Two-Way Street

by Bill Brenner on October 23, 2013

Some say criticism of North Andover School administrators in the Erin Cox case is a rush to judgement. No one knows what information was revealed behind closed doors, they say. And based on comments from other teens at the drinking party, Cox wasn’t the innocent, good friend the media has painted her to be.

On someone’s phone there’s video of Cox drinking and puking, they say.

Maybe that’s true. But the rush to judgement is a two-way street, as the local Valley Patriot newspaper demonstrated yesterday.

Mood music:

Earlier in the day, Duggan published a story citing anonymous law enforcement sources in North Andover who claimed high school student Erin Cox was to appear in court on charges of possession of alcohol and that her family was returning donations from supporters.

Hours later, Duggan was forced to retract the story and publish this one, which drops the first claim and retains the latter.

Other publications blindly ran with Duggan’s new information and looked stupid for it later in the day. This Yahoo! article at least captured the uncertainty of it all.

This isn’t the first time Duggan has rushed out misinformation. On the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, in the frenzy to be first with new details, he was on Facebook reporting an inflated death toll. He did so with the gusto of a football commentator announcing a touchdown. It’s an approach I’ve called him out on in the past. To his credit, Duggan pulled the original story and was honest about it.

This whole affair captured a human weakness we all share: We love to find things to get outraged about and then shoot our mouths off before we have all the facts.

I’m guilty of it, too. I once wrote a post defending Lance Armstrong amid all the allegations of doping. Then the facts came out and I had to admit I was wrong.

It’s always been this way, and it won’t change. We are, after all, human beings.

The best we can do is acknowledge that we rushed to judgement once we’re proven wrong. Doing so takes courage. Few things are as humiliating as discovering you’ve made an ass of yourself. But the truth always comes out eventually. The key is what we do with the truth once we have it.

Erin Cox

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Duggan October 28, 2013 at 10:23 am

interesting that you “inflate” your claims with allegation that I “inflated” numbers when we were reporting what our sources told us, but HEY LET”S IGNORE THE FACT that i Was RIGHT about the Erin Cox story to fit the narrative…

Tom Duggan October 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm

I’m curious, I do not mind criticism when I am wrong…. but are you man enough to admit when I am right? Just wondering if you do what you do because you are devoted to accuracy or … something else.

Do YOU give credit where credit is due or do YOU only tell the narrative you want your readers to know?

Just curious

Renee November 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

Another local paper, the Eagle Tribune reported that Erin was summons on October 23rd. They confirmed it with the Boxford police chief. Both papers attempted to obtain the court records, but because she is a minor they can’t. The Cox family from my understanding wish not to be interviewed. They have until November 8th to file suit. The fact is we don’t know the story. The school can’t comment due to privacy. We are only getting the story from Wendy Murphy.

North Andover teen was issued summons after Boxford party

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