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Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago embarrassed herself and her newspaper a few days ago. It's something that Santiago has become quite experienced at doing.
Santiago, whose work has been described at various times by colleagues as "trite" and "vapid," sat down at her computer following the weekend verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and composed a column for Wednesday's paper headlined, "Juror never gave Trayvon a chance." In the column, she offered solid proof that she is, without a doubt, the Herald's most incompetent writer.
Normally I don't give Santiago's puerile and preachy scribblings more than a passing glance. On those occasions when I do choose to wade through her clunky prose; when I'm finished, my reaction is almost always the same: "There's five minutes I'll never get back."
What prompted me to look at Santiago's Wednesday column was a scathing blog post written by Boca Raton-based criminal defense attorney Kevin F. Moot. Moot's post is one that should be read by every one of Santiago's bosses at the Herald.
Moot begins the essay on his firm's blog with this paragraph:
Like millions of Americans across the country, Fabiola Santiago is angry that George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Like millions of Americans upset with the verdict, she shows not the slightest appreciation for the rule of law. She writes derisively that juror B-37 "had no trouble giving Mr. Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt from the start," apparently blissfully unaware that it was juror B-37's solemn and lawful duty to presume Mr. Zimmerman's innocence from the start. The judge instructed her to give Mr. Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt. It's the law.But Moot saves the best for last and closes out his essay with these zingers:
Unfortunately, like so many upset Americans, Ms. Santiago has apparently forgotten that in America, when the government accuses an individual of a crime, the individual is given the benefit of the doubt, as a matter of law.
If Ms. Santiago actually believes that the State presented compelling evidence of Mr. Zimmerman's guilt, then Ms. Santiago either didn't watch the trial, or she holds the government to an incredibly low burden.It's ironic that Moot mentions - if only sarcastically - Santiago's "exacting standards."
Thankfully for all individuals in the State of Florida, we are not held to the exacting standards of Ms. Santiago. Rather, we are held to the standards of the law. That is the standard that juror B-37 applied. That is why George Zimmerman, innocent or not, is not guilty under the law.
Because, when it comes to getting stories in the paper, it's apparent she's not held to the same standards that her colleagues are. In the case of her Zimmerman juror column, it appears that it wasn't even looked at by an editor.
There are plenty of other examples of Santiago's work that bolster my theory that she gets special treatment.
Perhaps the best evidence of that is the time she used her column to launch a personal attack on Miami filmmaker Billy Corben after it was alleged that he used social media while he was on jury duty. Never mind that Corben sent out tweets in the courthouse before he was picked to sit on a jury. Those are facts and facts somehow never make it into Santiago's columns.
After that column appeared, Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times wrote this of Santiago's attack on Corben:
Instead she uses her column for a full-out ad hominen attack on Corben. She makes a point of using his legal name, "William Corben," like she was an angry mother reprimanding her son. She calls him "condescending," and a "bad-boy" narcissist, and chides his "stupidity" and "runaway self-promotion." Never mind that Santiago herself comes off as condescending and slightly stupid.Want more proof that Santiago gets special treatment?
Worst of all, not a single bit of Santiago's painful column is particularly funny, clever or illuminating. It is seriously just a columnist rehashing a previously reported story and calling the man at the center of it names. Names that aren't even clever! "Twitting twit?" Seriously?
Reading between the lines, one also gets the feeling that the columnist doesn't really understand the Internet. She writes with a shocked tone, "Every time he posted, his followers and friends commented." Yes! Welcome to Social Media 101, Fabiola!
Last February, Herald editors allowed Santiago to waste valuable space in their paper by printing her attack on the 18 year-old girl who flipped-off a Miami judge during an appearance in bond court.
Santiago used her column to belittle someone with no prior criminal record but who was obviously struggling with drug-dependency issues.
The judge she flipped-off had a record of having a short fuse and anger management issues. But Santiago ignored that. Instead, she tripped all over herself, calling the judge a "gentleman." So much for Santiago's exacting standards of journalism.
"A lot of us rolled our eyes in disbelief after that column got in the paper," one staffer told me.
A few days ago, one Herald insider described Santiago's work to me using terms like, "thin, poorly reported and fraudulent."
It will be interesting to see if Herald editors, in the next few days, publicly acknowledge and correct Santiago's latest lapses as noted by Mr. Moot.
We'll be anxiously waiting for that to happen.
And until it does, we'll be keeping a close watch on Santiago's future columns with a feature we're calling, "Fabi Watch."
Check back often as we set out to scrutinize the work of the Miami Herald's most fraudulent columnist.