I first caught sight of this one on MSNBC last night. An “inves­tiga­tive” “jour­nal­ist” from LA got the shit beaten out of him by a woman and her hus­band after dog­ging them a lit­tle too relentlessly.

Evidently John Mattes was “inves­ti­gat­ing” the cou­ple for sus­pected real estate scams when he got too close to Rosa Barraza, who began by con­fronting him and throw­ing water at the video­g­ra­pher. When Mattes per­sisted, she slapped him, where­upon Mattes told her that her behav­ior wasn’t “appro­pri­ate”. Barraza used invec­tive to explain her feel­ings on that, and things dete­ri­o­rated rapidly.

Mattes ended up fairly blood­ied; after Barraza’s hus­band, Assad Suleiman, joined the fray, she got a paper­weight and started flog­ging the “jour­nal­ist” pretty soundly with it. Eventually LA’s Finest arrived and held Suleiman at gun­point even though he was unarmed.

Barraza and Suleiman are out on bail now, and Mattes is prob­a­bly unchastened.

While Barraza and Suleiman may or may not be guilty of real estate scams, the fact is that an “inves­tiga­tive” “jour­nal­ist” is not a licensed pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor nor an agent of law enforce­ment, and there­fore the behav­ior of such crea­tures — which is often on the edge of uncon­scionable — is at best inva­sion of pri­vacy. Incessant dog­ging of pri­vate indi­vid­u­als in the name of secur­ing a sen­sa­tion­al­is­tic story is vile and appeals only to the basest of emotions.

Hopefully Mattes will serve as a warn­ing to other “inves­tiga­tive” “jour­nal­ists”. If, in the name of get­ting a “scoop”, you have the tar knocked out of you for har­rass­ment, maybe you damned well had it coming.

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