Oprah Ignores Abuses Against Jani Schofield
Anyone who’s read this weblog for any period of time is likely to have heard of January Schofield. She and her family were on Oprah recently on a story about their struggle with her “mental illness.” I find it appalling that Oprah, much like Shari Roan, covered the story without even mentioning the fact that Jani’s parents have admitted to beating and starving her. Michael, Jani’s father even wrote about it on his blog though after some readers’ responses he removed the part where he admits to starving her.
Maybe next time Oprah can have the parents of Rebecca Riley on. She can do a whole show about the topic of “pediatric bipolar disorder” in toddlers and the struggles they’ve faced without having to drag down the tone of the show with the fact that her mother kiled her with an overdose of clonidine. Perhaps she can do a show with the mother of Iman Morales, discussing his views on the gentrification of Brooklyn and leave out the part where the police kill him.
Let’s be honest, no one turns to daytime television for credible journalism but if someone is going to tackle a story like this, they owe it to the victim and the viewing public to tell the whole story. Oprah’s omitting the abuse of this girl amounts to endorsement of it just as Shari Roan’s original coverage of it for the LA Times did. It’s bad enough to turn a blind eye to stories like this entirely but to dig into a story and go through he trouble of leaving out the abuse and strange defenses of it is unconscionable.
It’s just one more case of the media looking the other way when those diagnosed as mentally ill are abused and when you dig a little deeper and find out how much it’s happening it is truly frightening. The refusal to address these things is a ringing endorsement of it and it’s happened throughout our history with regard to different groups of people on the basis of class, race, gender — you name it. The difference is that we now look back on it with shame and, however delayed, some amount of outrage. I wonder how long it is going to be until you can no longer beat and starve another human being and — as long as they are deemed mentally ill — be regarded as a struggling hero.