No Television Cameras Are Allowed in Boston Marathon Bomber's Courtroom

By Scarry, Eddie | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, January 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

No Television Cameras Are Allowed in Boston Marathon Bomber's Courtroom


Scarry, Eddie, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


A gripping national news story has almost everything it would need in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev now underway in Boston: a tragic crime, a young and attractive defendant and controversial elements like religion and terrorism.

But one thing is missing: cameras.

The Tsarnaev trial -- opening more than a year after he and his now-dead older brother allegedly carried out the plot to bomb the Boston Marathon April 15, 2013, resulting in three deaths and more than 250 injuries -- is not open to broadcast media. This means still and video photography, as well as microphones, are banned from the Massachusetts court room.

The difference between the Tsarnaev trial and, say, the televised trails of George Zimmerman in 2013 and O.J. Simpson in 1995, is that Tsarnaev is charged with federal crimes. Federal courts have banned broadcast media since the advent of commercial television in the 1940s.

Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, said that the lack of a television presence in the courtroom will invariably lead to less national news coverage of the Tsarnaev trial.

"Without new pictures, it is not going to be much of a television story," he told the Washington Examiner media desk. "Whether that's good or bad, I can't tell you. I think it's just a fact of how television works."

He said the trial will receive some coverage but it won't be as intensive as other legal proceedings, like the Zimmerman trial. Toobin also said another contributing factor in the lack of national news coverage is that there is little mystery or controversy in the case.

In the Zimmerman case, it was unclear whether the defendant was in the right as a private citizen to follow Trayvon Martin, black teenager whom Zimmerman claimed was suspiciously-dressed, before a deadly struggle ensued between the two parties.

Zimmerman maintained that he was attacked first, though there was no video evidence of that. …

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