We have seen Buccaneers’ rookie quarterback Jameis Winston grow into the role of a leader for Tampa Bay on the field. But off the field he continues to fight to keep his character from being defamed.
The so-called documentary focusing on campus rape called The Hunting Ground is scheduled to air Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on CNN. Its director, Kirby Dick, has spoken at great lengths about his film and its purpose, saying that he wanted to bring the rape issue to light. While rape and sexual assault is certainly a problem in this world we live in, another problem is the film itself.
Earlier this week, emails surfaced between film producer Amy Herdy and the aunt/attorney for Erica Kinsman (Winston’s accuser), Patricia Carroll. Herdy described the methods for pursuing the production of the film in her emails as being “very much in the corner” of the victims and not having a “need to get the perpetrator’s side” of the story. In another email, Herdy then told Carroll they had plans to “ambush” Winston.
The film was under a lot of scrutiny already and the emails just add to that criticism.
If you have followed the case closely, you know Kinsman’s stories have changed throughout the entire process as well as in the film. From what her friends say happened that night to the toxicology and DNA reports never matching her claims, Kinsman stands firm in this so-called documentary.
It doesn’t talk about the inconsistencies in her stories, though. It also doesn’t bring up how she supported Winston during his 2013 college football season with social media messages like “my quarterback is better than yours” — nine months after she already identified him as a suspect.
“All these people were praising him,” Kinsman says in the film. “People were just calling me names: A slut, a whore.”
Yet, she was praising him too.
The film also takes shots at Florida State University as well as the Tallahassee Police Department. Its producers claim in the film with the evidence Kinsman immediately provided to them, they could have pursued the suspect (Winston) the next day. However, fact is, Kinsman didn’t name Winston a suspect until more than a month had already passed and never met with law enforcement upon their multiple requests after.
Because of the film’s inaccuracies and false claims, Winston and his legal team sent a memo to CNN Friday afternoon threatening legal action if they air the film. They state that portions Kinsman’s segment in the film — which is the film’s longest — are “false and defamatory” and they urge the network to “reconsider the reckless decision” to air a “deeply-flawed” documentary. They also believe CNN has knowledge The Hunting Ground contains many errors.
But Kinsman still has backers, like local writer Matt Baker. In his blog write-up for the budget-cutting Tampa Bay Times, Baker only mentions one line from Winston’s legal team’s letter to CNN: “complete disregard for journalistic standards”. Irony. There was no mention of the real reason for the letter which was the defamatory claims, no links to the letter nor the emails exposing the film, nothing. So of course, Baker — who has known the Kinsman family since her high school days — already got a quote from the accuser’s attorney in response to Winston’s camp which is up on the publication’s site.
The film, with the initial intentions being for a good cause, has turned out to be a poor attempt in the eyes of many. Several schools not involved in this film have spoken against it and major national publications that once wrote positively about the film have now jumped on the latest from the emails and Winston’s legal team, making the film look even worse.
At the end of the day, The Hunting Ground is a one-sided attempt at driving Winston further into the ground and unfortunately takes the focus off of real victims.
The letter to CNN and the emails exposing the producer’s intentions can be found below.