The Media Column: Showing Robert Kraft's tapes would be nothing more than legally sanctioned revenge porn

Alex Reimer
April 04, 2019 - 11:45 am
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As a self-proclaimed vigilante for truth and justice, it pains me to side with a billionaire over a free press that’s trying to expose his alleged crimes. But any outlet that would release Robert Kraft’s sex tapes from the Orchids of Asia Day Spa wishes to engage in nothing more than legally sanctioned revenge porn.

A myriad of media organizations, including the Boston Globe, have filed a joint motion opposing Kraft’s motion to have evidence suppressed in his case. The most contentious subjects are the two tapes of massage workers servicing Kraft, which police say they possess. 

Kraft’s high-powered attorneys blasted Florida law enforcement in court documents this week, saying authorities abused their power and received permission to install the cameras under false pretenses. Police insist the Orchids of Asia Day Spa was part of an international human trafficking operation, even though no human trafficking charges have been filed in connection to the case.

“Law enforcement used maximally invasive, constitutionally suspect surveillance in order to investigate what was really nothing more than a run-of-the-mill misdemeanor,” the memorandum reads, per ESPN.

 

But even if Kraft’s lawyers convince a judge to suppress the videos in court, media outlets are arguing they should still be available to the public. “Regardless of the status of the evidence in the case, that does not . . . prohibit disclosure (to the public),” said Dana J. McElroy, the media companies’ attorney, via the Boston Globe.

It’s important to note the media outlets –– which include NFL TV partners such as ESPN and CBS –– want access to all evidence in the case. Their motion isn’t solely about watching the 77-year-old Kraft with his pants down. But let’s be honest: that’s the most valuable commodity here.

Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann told WEEI.com over email it could be difficult for the news organizations to obtain any evidence that’s suppressed. “It's hard to predict whether the media companies will get the videos because this is an unusual situation where the police have a lot of discretion in terms of record requests and the records they seek are so personally sensitive,” he wrote. “It's possible that prosecutors have suggested to Kraft's attorneys that if Kraft agrees to a plea deal, prosecutors would support the videos be sealed.”

That makes sense. If prosecutors present the videos to make their case, then it would behoove reporters covering the story to obtain the evidence for themselves. But if the tapes are suppressed, then they’re irrelevant. And besides, there are already two publicly released police reports with graphic descriptions of the videos’ contents. 

Under any circumstances, it is difficult to see how actually broadcasting the tapes on TV or posting them online would add to the public discourse or better serve anybody’s understanding of the case. These are misdemeanor charges. Police have used Kraft as an example to bring attention to the illegal sex industry, and that’s fine. Being one of the most powerful men in sports comes with many advantages. Enduring some embarrassment when you get caught in a seedy strip mall day spa is part of the deal. 

But lack of empathy for billionaires shouldn’t override the privacy concerns here. If police did exaggerate their human trafficking suspicions to get warrants for the cameras, which Kraft’s attorneys allege, then the Patriot Act was abused. Passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Patriot Act strengthened sneak-and-peek warrants, which allow law enforcement to enter private premises without the owner’s knowledge. That’s what police did in this case, as the spa operators didn’t know cameras were surreptitiously installed. 

Florida state law does not list prostitution as one of the crimes eligible for sneak-and-peek surveillance, according to WPTV. That possibly explains why law enforcement trumped up the suspected human trafficking component.

Police must exercise caution when invading people’s privacy. If the tapes of these johns are made available to the public, it could encourage law enforcement to even more brazenly skirt around the law. 

Showing the tapes would only serve to further humiliate Kraft, and perhaps the other johns, since Kraft’s footage isn’t the sole piece of evidence outlets want to put on the public record. There is something grotesque about using nude photographs and sex tapes to shame people, even those charged with misdemeanors that often get scrubbed from the record after some community service.

Kraft is worthy of every scornful op-ed directed towards him. Anti-sexual exploitation activists are rightfully using his stature to advance awareness for their cause. The public flogging is warranted. 

We just don’t need to see his actual rear-end. 

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Farewell to Tomase, the liberal lion of the Casting Couch: It is strange to be the last liberal standing at WEEI. Tomase’s departure creates both a political and intelligence vacuum at the station –– as the morning show crew says, he is the smartest Casting Couch member in history.

One of the things I admire about Tomase is his ability to play it cool. Way too many times in my first year at the station, I lost control of myself and said things I regret. That rarely seemed to happen to Tomase. He secured his spot on “Kirk & Callahan” without debasing himself. 

Speaking of which, Tomase’s unflappable nature produced two of the greatest spats in K&C history: his shouting match with Kirk about how his career “will explode and it will be effing spectacular” and his argument with Curt Schilling about Trump’s infamous Escalator Video

Oh, and he also got Dino to walk out on him. That’s worth something. 

As I tweeted last night, Tomase is the best columnist in the city and great on the radio. But he’s also just an exceptionally nice and level-headed person. Working here won’t be the same without him. I look forward to reuniting on the AOC campaign trial.

Drellich shows you can be crazy and enterprising: Evan Drellich was the first person to report the Red Sox and Xander Bogaerts were nearing a contract extension. An unemployed guy who showed up one hour late to a recent morning show appearance broke one of the biggest Red Sox stories of the season.

There’s this notion that reporters must be bland and hide their biases, because they’re not supposed to risk alienating potential sources. But Drellich shows you can both opine and report. It's a refreshing reminder –– and is a good qualification for an open position here, by the way. 

Stephen A. shows the power of going viral: Stephen A. Smith’s main responsibility at ESPN is hosting a daily two-hour talk show in the middle of the day. Yet, he’s expected to become the highest-paid personality in ESPN history, potentially making $10 million annually in his next contract.

It shows the power of going viral. Smith’s takes are routinely plastered on social media and replayed throughout the country. He is ESPN’s most relevant voice. Perhaps that says more about our histrionic culture than his talent, but that’s another conversation. 

ESPN reportedly pays Mike Greenberg $6.5 million per year. While they’re throwing crazy money around to keep high-profile talent, signing up Stephen A. makes perfect sense –– despite his inability to remember pesky things like active NFL players and whether top QB prospect Dwayne Haskins can pass. 

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