Truth wins over gut reaction in Kobe, Bush issues

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 20, 2003

Quick turnarounds in public opinion are amazing. What's more amazing is how quickly we all act as judge and jury in everyday situations.

In the blink of an eye, we often make a snap judgment of what is fact and what is fiction.

Consider the national reaction to the now soiled reputation of NBA star Kobe Bryant.

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The Los Angeles Lakers' star is accused of sexually assaulting a Colorado woman.

Prior to the charge Bryant's reputation as a bit of a square seemed incongruous compared to many of the other wild bad boys of the NBA.

Bryant appeared to be a choirboy compared to former NBA shocker Dennis Rodman.

Many Americans, yours truly included, were convinced that Bryant was probably falsely accused.

We had read the stories about how the young Bryant stayed in his hotel room as his teammates cavorted about town on road trips.

We were convinced the public persona that we saw was solid, concrete, unwavering and morally pure.

Snap judgment: Bryant would not do such a thing. He must be innocent.

On Friday, Bryant admitted adultery with the woman.

Now it seems the court battle will be over whether or not the adultery was consensual are not.

Instantly, Bryant's admission silenced critics and shocked more than a few.

The first impression many had of the "truth" was just plain wrong.

Take another national judgment call from recent headlines: Did President Bush mislead Americans by purporting sketchy (possibly phony) intelligence about Iraq's quest for nuclear arms?

My first reaction was similar to the reaction to the allegations against Bryant.

Why on earth would President Bush make up something about Iraq? Besides Iraq had enough "axis of evil" points against it already without having to make up any.

As the layers of the political onion are peeled away, it now appears that Bush's information was a big stretch, at best, if not just a downright political fabrication.

It is a difficult lesson to learn, but both cases - of gut reaction proven wrong by the truth - illustrate that rarely can a book be judged by its cover - or its author.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to