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Friday I spent about three hours Monday answering e-mails. If you wrote and did not get an answer, my apology. I fell way behind in answering e-mails since I was not in the office all day Friday — I was in Georgia. Plus, I don't know if I have ever received so many e-mails on any topic as I have about Jennifer Wilbanks (search). It seems that just about everyone was following that story. Since I received so many e-mails, I thought I would put you to work today — writing the blog. So, here are your e-mails:
E-mail No. 1 — This first e-mail is a partial personal e-mail from my colleague Bret Baier (FOX News Pentagon correspondent). Unknown to any of us — and even to Bret — one of John Mason's groomsmen went to high school with Bret in Atlanta. I learned that they were high school classmates in the middle of the night when I was inside the John and Jennifer's house after learning she was alive. I had my picture taken with several groomsmen — posted Monday on the blog — and told Bret to look at it. The man to my right is Bret's high school friend and here is Bret's e-mail to me:
That's him — Neal Hendee … I talked to him today … very funny. Amazing. We were actually very close friends in high school — we played on the golf team together.
It was great to catch up with him today.
E-mail No. 2 — The next few e-mails are from the same viewer:
Just want to offer you my opinion. I think you, Greta, owe John Mason an apology. I listened to you last week and you seemed to indicate (by the tone of your voice) that you felt he was guilty. Get real! Who made you judge and jury? There is a lot I would like to say to you, but won't. Two things: I don't plan to watch your program again, and I wish you would go back to CNN.
Have a great day
Sally Branigan See
ANSWER: Sally — stick to the facts. It is much better than your fertile imagination about what may "seem" ... or your assumptions from suspected "tone of voice." For some fun, I suggest you read this partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor" on April 29th when I was a guest — it may take some of the egg off your face:
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: You've got to be a crime. It's got to be a crime. A woman like that with a long history of responsibility. She had a steady job. As you said, good friends who traveled to be with her on her wedding day. A fiancé who looks like, you know, he's an ordinary, regular kind of guy. She just wouldn't bolt and not tell anybody. That's cruel.
O'REILLY: Go ahead.
SUSTEREN: Except for one thing, Bill. Here's the odd thing is that, you know, two years ago, I would have given probably a different answer than I'm going to give you tonight. Two years ago, Elizabeth Smart. You know, who would have dreamed she would return home? That was bizarre. Audrey Seiler, the college student in Madison who took off for a few days and vanished and everybody was looking for her. That was weird.
You know, in the minds of all her friends and her family, it would be bizarre to think that she got cold feet, but you know, it's not something that the police aren't looking at. It's a possibility.
Crime scene's more likely but at this point with no clues.
O'REILLY: Yes, but here's the problem with that. Here's the problem with that, Greta. In order for a person to do that to this extent, with the national media there, hearts are broken, fear, all that, you'd have to be extremely disturbed. The woman in North Carolina who you referenced had a history of loopy behavior.
Elizabeth Smart actually was just lucky she wasn't killed. All right, that was just luck that that nut who took her didn't do her harm.
See, almost 100 percent of crimes, there's some element in the crime that's logical. This would defy any kind of logic. So I do believe, I hate to say it, I do believe that it's a crime.
SUSTEREN: You know, Bill, I think it is, too. I'm just hoping...
O'REILLY: Yes, we all are.
E-mail No. 3 — I emailed Sally telling her she should not rely on assumptions about what seems or her assumptions about tone of voice. I told her instead she should rely on facts and she sent me another e-mail. Here it is:
Excuse me. I am entitled to my opinion of your show and it will not be watched in my home. You have an opinion of me and I have one of you. Now, we are even. I wish you the very, very best. Now, please do not ever e-mail me again. CNN looks better every day.
Sally Branigan See
ANSWER: This is how I then responded to Sally (in an e-mail): I won't email you again ... but I am posting your e-mail on the blog tomorrow with the transcript which shows you wrong.
E-mail No. 4 — Sally then responded again. And suddenly she seems happy with me:
Hey, thanks. This is cool.
Sally Branigan See
E-mail No. 5 — One final e-mail from Sally. Looks like we are now friends:
Greta, I may not agree with you, but at least you took time to answer. I have not written that may letters or memos with my opinion, but you are the first to reply. Don't fall over, but I admire you for that. And, I am most honest when I say I wish you the best. Since FOX is fair and balanced, it is fair that you would work there.
Sally Branigan See
E-mail No. 6
I could certainly tell that you had a "feeling" about this story. When Bill kept saying "this is a criminal act, she's a stable young woman … she did not get cold feet," I could tell by your answer you were not so convinced. My question is: How did you know and what clued you in or was it just intuition?
I continue to enjoy your show. I watch it every night. I love your panel, especially Ted —please keep inviting him back. My husband and I wait every night for you to introduce your panel and when we see that Ted is going to be on we cheer: "Go Ted!" I know it sounds crazy but we love his comments and what he adds to the panel.
Keep up the good work! Can't wait to hear your answer to my question — my neighbor picked up on it too!
ANSWER: Jackie, I had no idea what had happened in this matter. I was only keeping an open mind and exploring all possibilities in my mind. The one thing I do know is that it is dangerous to "rush to judgment" since matters often turn out differently from what first thinks.
E-mail No. 7 — This next e-mailer may be surprised to know that John Mason came up to me after our Friday night show and thanked me for being fair:
You failed in your attempt to railroad the groom-to-be in Georgia. You, and Bill O'Reilly, are the biggest reason FOX ratings are falling. I have watched FOX News since its conception. I no longer watch it because of you and Bill. Bill is a socialist in disguise. You, you are what is known as a human predator. You and Gloria Aldrich [sic] are the lowest of the low. If money means that much to the two of you, God help you.
E-mail No. 8
I live in Vegas. She was splashed everywhere — including an hour on your show — from her front yard. There's no way she didn't know the attention she got. She claims she cut her hair so not to be recognized. With all of the true abductions — especially children — we need to use our resources for real victims. I think she's a spoiled little rich girl and we need a federal law — not named after her — to prosecute people who do this. What she personally — did to her family, his family, her wedding party and all the guests — is an added act of spoiled rotten. She deserves no airtime. We all have things we have to face but face them with feelings and responsibilities. She gets no sympathy from me and she surely made a fool out of you and I love your show.
Las Vegas, NV
E-mail No. 9
I am at almost a loss for words over the outrage and demands that Jennifer Willbanks be prosecuted for lying to the police about being kidnapped, when it was not wrong for the three people staying in that mobile home with John Couey to lie to the police — not once but several times — all the while that poor little girl was in there.
E-mail No. 10 — This e-mailer is referring to the fact that we got back to the Jennifer Wilbanks/John Mason's home about 3 a.m. just after she called:
Thanks for all your work in Georgia and congrats on your two-hour "scoop." I just happened to check FOX before going to bed — yes, up late, I have horrible sleep habits, too! — and, there you were, live.
I am happy things turned out well, but I feel for a very disturbed person. Obviously, she will offer restitution today and charges will not be filed unless Georgia politics get into "the mix."
Good show, "On the Spot."
Joan CA Gram
E-mail No. 11
I am so angry with this immature little brat:
1. She put her future husband through hell. He was immediately treated as a suspect and condemned right from the get go.
2. She has taken the biggest step to destroy the credibility of women everywhere.
3. All of the media was concentrated on this goofball and there wasn't one word that I saw, heard or read about the two young boys lost off the coast of South Carolina until they were rescued. That, my friend, is a real shame!
E-mail No.12 — Note from Jim Hammer at the Michael Jackson (search) trial in Santa Maria:
Trial Notes: Monday May 2, 2005
Monday was a long and at times tedious day of prosecutors trying to prove their conspiracy case through the phone records of Jackson’s key associates and the accuser’s family and friends. Using charts projected large on the wall in front of the jury, these records show a flurry of calls between the alleged co-conspirators right around the time the Bashir documentary aired. But missing from all these charts was one name: Michael Jackson. All of the journalists around me commented on the same thing. There were calls from a room he was staying in in Florida with the accuser’s family, but there is no way so far to personally tie Jackson to any of these calls. The problem for the prosecution is that all of the key players were named as un-indicted co-conspirators in the indictment — and therefore all of them are unavailable to help prove the D.A.'s charged conspiracy against Jackson. The case is not over yet, but the time is quickly running out to tie Jackson to the conspiracy. A lot is riding on the D.A.'s last expected witness Rudy Provinceo, an associate of the one of the co-conspirators.
If the D.A. loses this part of their case, one is left to wonder what might have happened if they had actually indicted the un-indicted co-conspirators and then tried to strike deals with them to testify against Jackson. This is done in many conspiracy prosecutions and is sometimes the only way to get "inside" the conspiracy. It looks like in less than two days, the defense will start to put on its case. The big question on my mind is whether Jackson himself will testify. If he does, all bets are off. Stay tuned…
Santa Maria Courthouse
E-mail No. 13 — Note from Laura Ingle at the Michael Jackson trial:
The 10th week of trial got underway today after a prayer vigil outside the courthouse ... this is only the second time that something of this size has occurred.
Michael Jackson's fans gathered in a tight circle outside the chain-link fence where the public lottery happens before the sun comes up. I listened in and the man conducting the vigil asked everyone to pray for Michael to be set free of these charges. There were also colored balloons tied to the fence that framed the gathering. A message on one of them read: "We love Michael."
Jurors are looking at a large blowup of phone grids and records today. The call activity diagrams show who called who around the days of the alleged conspiracy in the case. The
calls come from and go to Jackson aides, his lawyer at the time (Mark Geragos) and travel agent. There is clearly a flurry of phone calls on February 12, 2003 — the day/night the teenager accuser and his family say they "escaped" from Neverland. It definitely looks like something was up ... there's just no indication Michael Jackson did anything himself. He apparently did not have his own cell phone — people made calls for him.
Jackson looks a little sad/tired/weary today — not as animated as usual. Jurors are doing their best to stay interested in the phone diagrams with the lights off in the courtroom for the projector. It's not the most exciting testimony, but it will be extremely relevant when jurors deliberate the conspiracy case. They need these records as evidence to go back and talk about the timeline.
Over the weekend, I drove through the Los Olivos countryside to check out Jackson's Neverland ranch. I did not get in, although I wasn't alone on a Saturday night as the sun was setting over the alleged crime scene. Outside one of the gates to his property were two carloads of foreign fans. On the back of one woman's PT Cruiser there were two photos taped to the back window. One was of Jackson, the other was of his lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau (search). The caption around Mesereau was "sexy man." I asked the ladies why they were hanging out so late and for so long. They weren't exactly thrilled to be questioned and wouldn't go on tape with me. As the driver spit out sunflower seeds out of her car window, she looked with a gaze up the hill of M.J.'s ranch and said, "Sometimes ... you can hear the music." Not sure if it's Jackson's boom box or dance studio. I couldn't help but notice the ranch across the way from Jackson's. Looked like some cowboys were sitting around a campfire watching the cars and people. I can only imagine what they were saying.
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