Media Shark Frenzy After Skirmish between Alexian Lien and group of riders in NYC

From Rachael Maltbie to all who have read this, please see my follow up here.

Still frame from the helmet cam where Lien drove his SUV over the riders in front of him.

Still frame from the helmet cam where Lien drove his SUV over the riders in front of him.

Last week, a group called Hollywood Stuntz was to put on a massive ride, but that ride never happened. The ride was initially meant to be “a family thing” to celebrate the end of summer, but things went awry when this event was cancelled and a group of unknown riders had a violent confrontation with Alexian Lien, the driver of a black Range Rover.

As riders approached the sides of Lien’s Range Rover on the highway, they changed lanes in front of Lien. Upon slowing down, Lien hit the rear of one of the bikes and knocked it and rider over which brought the entire group to a halt. The riders surrounding the vehicle approached Lien, who had his wife in the passenger seat and baby in the rear seat of the vehicle. According to the NY Times, witnesses say the riders did not attack the vehicle initially.

Lien panicked and hit the gas pedal, running over a couple of bikes in the process. This resulted in a pursuit that ended near the George Washington Bridge when Lien was forced to stop at a traffic light. At that point, the riders surrounded his vehicle again and one of them began bashing in the driver side window with his helmet. A video that was shot by a rider nearby with his helmet camera shows the entire pursuit, but stops just short of Lien being beaten. Lien suffered lacerations and bruises as a result of the beating, but he had no other serious injuries.

The media has been focusing mostly on Lien’s injuries as opposed to the injuries of Jay Meezee, the rider who was hit by Lien’s SUV. Meezee is currently in a medical induced coma and is paralyzed from the waist down. He’s fighting for his life in the hospital while the media has a feeding frenzy with the story surrounding his misfortune.

It’s been a long time since I’ve published an opinion on events in the news, but I had to speak up about this one. Based on the video, it’s unclear what the intentions were of either

Headline by the NY Post. They're obviously not worried about credibility.

Headline by the NY Post. They’re obviously not worried about credibility.

side. According to the NY Times, a witness stated the driver (Lien) “sped up as the riders approached and hurled obscenities at them.” If this is true and Lien had in fact instigated a confrontation, the resulting road rage was an instinctual response and most likely more than he had bargained for. This incident would have been the equivalent of Lien starting a fight with someone at a family barbecue and expecting not to be beaten by the rest of the family members afterward. And if Lien had in fact started the whole thing by intentionally hitting the rider in front of him, he was not only endangering the lives of the riders around his vehicle, but also the lives of his family in the car. His temporary recklessness may have been the result of panic or fear, but he is still a suspect involved in a cowardly crime.

If you read the NY Post’s view of the event, they title their version of the story as “Motor Psychos: ‘Road Rage Biker May Be Paralyzed.’” The article goes on to state how “one of the sickos posted video on YouTube” and the “menacing pack” surrounded Lien’s SUV and then “cops busted psycho biker.” Not only did the NY Post immediately place blame on the riders without any backup testimony from witness statements, they wrote a leading piece to sway readers into easily believing the ‘bad biker’ stereotype, thus making Lien a hero despite his cowardly act. This was lazy, presumptuous and unsubstantiated journalism that would have landed the NY Post in a slander suit if this had happened before the digital age of social media.

I, myself, have a major in journalism and was taught about a journalist’s code of ethics which is or was thought to be as sacred as a knight’s code of honor. But this code has obviously been degraded, undermined and devalued to the point where it’s virtually worthless simply for the sake of page views.

I’m very disheartened and angered by the media’s loose use of trendy, persuasive banter with no regard to the consequences. They’re paying no attention to how their words affect all involved and how their point of view persuades not just the reader, but also law enforcement entities into buying a particular version of events because they’re the so called authority on the matter. This is just ignorant reporting that does nothing to dissolve the aftermath of a horrific and unfortunate incident and it does nothing to positively examine the circumstances of the event or shed a positive light on the matter.

Photo of Jay Meezee lying on a hospital bed. This viral photo is a potent message that road rage never has a good ending.

Photo of Jay Meezee lying on a hospital bed. This viral photo is a potent message that road rage never has a good ending.

My point is, on that horrible day, Jay, who was trying to help the rider who was initially hit, may never walk again, or sustain a normal job or even be the man his family knew before. And though the driver of the SUV was injured, he was not severely hurt and more than likely will not be punished for his mistakes the way the riders will be punished for theirs.

There are many shoulda-coulda-woulda’s in this story, i.e. Lien should have backed off when the pack approached, he should have called the cops and the riders should have stayed out of his lane and not consumed the entire highway. There were many chances to avoid this incident, chances by both sides but they did what they did and now they both have to face the consequences. There is no excuse for the riders consuming an entire highway, but there is also no excuse for Lien to flee the scene of an accident after maiming a rider with his vehicle.

Even though Lien hit and severely injured a rider, even though he fled the scene of an accident, endangered his family and didn’t notify the cops of his situation like a coward (most likely because he knew he was also in the wrong), he will not be punished. No charges will be brought against him. He’ll recover from his beating and move on with his life like nothing ever happened. He will most likely take out his resentment on any other rider he sees while driving for the rest of his life. But because the media is pinning most of the blame on the riders, it’s justifying Lien to take out his resentment as well as every other driver on the road for that matter as they’re simply treating every last ‘bad, malicious biker’ the way they deserve to be treated.

The media is the voice of the people. It’s all we see and hear and we’re bombarded with stories that are not always true and opinions that are not always warranted. Everything happens for a reason but if that reason is twisted and contorted into slop by poor journalism, then we’re never going to improve as a society, we’re never going to stop violence or persuade readers to take a positive course of action. By the media pointing fingers, they’re only throwing fuel on the fire just to see how high the flames can reach. And where’s the justice in that?

Helmet Cam Footage of Incident.