Amish Schoolhouse Murders: Life in the Balance

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In writing the blog yesterday, I forgot to give you one other piece of behind the scenes information which gives you a better idea of how television news is done — for better or for worse.

Here it is: On Friday afternoon when we taped the special on the Amish for the Saturday prime-time airing, we had to do two versions — one in which we announced five girls murdered… and another version saying six little girls had been murdered. Yes, how unfortunate that we had to do two versions, but we needed to face the reality of the situation: That the sixth child could die before we made air with our special. We knew at the time of our taping that one little girl was on the edge of life and death (and remains on the edge). None of us liked having to do this, since we found five more than we wanted to face. Usually our show is live so we don't have to do these extremely awkward things. So far the sixth child has not died, but she is in very grave condition — yes, very, very sad.

I was asked yesterday if I wanted to guest host next week one day on "FOX & Friends." I said, "sure" and the answer was, "I will get back to you." Was I too eager? I am not sure that my invitation to guest host was a "sure thing" or just a test. In any event, you do the math: I get home about midnight and I think the "FOX & Friends" people arrive at the bureau about 5 a.m. ET.

I like to guest host from time to time on shows, it is fun to do something a bit different and almost always a challenge. I once guest hosted for Larry King when I worked at CNN and the audio people forgot to put the English translation of the Romanian president in my earpiece. I was too green (stupid?) to say "Let's go to break," so it could be fixed and just faked my way through the segment since I knew the viewers were getting the translation.

What are your thoughts on North Korea? What should we do or not do? (And by the way, in sending your ideas, skip writing me your blame on the Bush or Clinton administrations — we can worry about the blame later if anyone feels the need to blame. Right now, we need good ideas since this is a huge problem for the world and blame can be wasted energy.)

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Laws are nuts anymore... but if Mr. Karr wasn't tried here in California, does he have to register as a sex offender? Great show Sunday on the 10 years. Just a great job by everyone... thank you.

ANSWER: No, he does not have to register as he has not been convicted of anything. If this outrages you, be mad at the authorities for losing the evidence. It is their job to preserve evidence, not bungle a case.

E-mail No. 2

I watched your program on the Amish children. Such a sad thing and such gracious people. I live close to a small Amish village in Adams Co., Ohio. I go to their store sometimes. One thing I have noticed about the Amish and I also picked this up from the small showing that was done on this story. The Amish people are all in good shape. I have never seen an Amish person that was obese. Maybe the rest of us could take a lesson, not only in graciousness, but in the way to live our daily lives.
June Donovan

ANSWER: The observation about weight is an interesting one... like you, I did not see any obese ones. They do much physical labor — gathering food, etc. — and they don't "super size" at the fast food drive thru.

E-mail No. 3

Hi Greta,
I just had to write you about the Amish. My husband and I visited Lancaster County in 2000 (Lancaster, Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse), and we loved it so much that we wished we had spent our whole vacation there. We were struck by the simplicity and genuineness of these wonderful people. We visited a large farmers' market in Bird-in-Hand where a large number of the Amish worked. We bought some Shoo-Fly-Pie (YUM!!! I can send you the recipe if you'd like! We have the phone number of an Amish bakery that delivers 2nd day air all over the USA; we order a couple of times a year and also send pies to friends and relatives) from a young Amish girl, I'd say probably late teens to early 20s. She was very friendly, gave us big smiles, and asked if we would be in the area for long. I said no, we had to leave later that day, and asked her why. She said, "I was hoping you could come help us pick peaches tomorrow." How sweet is that? We thought it was so REAL and refreshing!! And blew away the stereotype you hear of them "shunning" the English.
Prior to going there, we had taken care to dress in neutral colors, very conservatively, and I wore next-to-no-makeup. We wanted to be as respectful of them as possible. And didn't take their picture (except a few from behind). One of the quaintest things I remember is when we pulled up to a gas station on our way back to Philadelphia. My husband was pumping gas when we heard the clip clop of a horse and buggy. An old Amish man with a long white beard got out, got his big plastic jug out and filled it at the "kerosene" pump that is provided for them. He went in and paid for it and then put it in the buggy and they clip clopped off into the sunset.
We were so sad and outraged that such a horrible thing had invaded their world. I only hope that maybe good things can come out of it; that we "English" will strive to be more forgiving like they are, and that maybe they will see that WE aren't all that bad... by coming to their aid and helping them and praying for them. I am part-Dutch myself, and have souvenirs from that trip in my kitchen (hex signs, tiles, etc.).
And, concerning the recent recalls and e.coli outbreaks with vegetables... I've noticed that at these juice bars and smoothie kiosks, I've watched the young kids make these things, and they will take a banana and instead of peeling it and THEN slicing it, they will just slice it right through the peel and then put it in the blender. They will do the same things with lemons, limes, oranges, cantaloupes, etc. And cantaloupes are notorious for salmonella. I wish a bulletin would come out on the news about this issue. That fruits and vegetables should also be peeled, washed, etc. Common sense and hygiene would go a long way into preventing sickness.
Sorry this is so long... take care and keep up the good work!
Your faithful fan and friend,
Sarah Lopez
Jacksonville, FL

(By the way, you and I are the same age!)

ANSWER: You are 16 years old, too? (Or is 16 my IQ?)

E-mail No. 4

Dear Greta,
This past Saturday, my family took a drive out to Amish country with a small gift, and looking for a way to heal... I had worked (16 years ago!) at a lovely gift shop village in Intercourse, PA, in the heart of Lancaster County Amish country. I got the job because my mom was good friends with the woman who owns it; it is called Kitchen Kettle Village.
Way back then, in summer of 1990, a cute 19-year-old Amish girl I worked with in the Jam and Relish Shop (where Amish girls cooked up homemade jams and relishes from scratch) invited me to a 'Corn Roast' at her home, an Amish farm… it was also kind of an engagement party for her, as she was about to marry and move on. I was thrilled to have this unique experience and attended her picnic. It was outdoors at a huge Amish farm, lots of good food, pleasant folks, and a great time.
I never saw her again, until this past weekend. I wanted us — my husband, son and I — to go out to Amish country again and try to find a way to reach out to them. It is only about 20 minutes-drive from where we live... my son and I bought a cute little, stuffed grey and white doggie at our local Hallmark store (I was keeping in mind the Amish do not like bright, showy colors).
As we headed out to the country, I was reminded of this nice Amish girl, Sarah, and wondered where she could be now. I convinced my husband to drive toward the area I THOUGHT I had gone to that picnic so many years ago, tho' I wasn't sure... We came to a house at the end of a long, country road and I thought that was it! I knocked on the door and two, cute shy Amish boys came to the door. It turns out they were her nephews and directed us to where she lives now, right down the road! We drove up the driveway, to a garage with a horse and buggie inside. The view from their yard was breathtaking.
An Amish man with a long beard approached our car, looking very guarded (the shootings, you know!) I hopped out and explained that I used to work with Sarah at Kitchen Kettle Village and wanted to know if she lived there. As soon as he broke into a beautiful smile, I recognized that cute fiance of hers from way back when! Then a little boy came out of the house with the straw hat, then another, then Sarah, then a toddler girl in a long dress, another boy, a cat, a cute dog came up to greet us! It was like Hallmark Movie of the Week!
When I explained things to Sarah, we were hugging moments later... from 19-year-old girl to 35-year-old woman and with five little ones! We had a great chat and they even invited us inside where we visited for another 45 minutes. Sarah told me she was very "touched" that I contacted her due to sadness over the school shooting events and encouraged us to come back often. We now have new friends we plan to keep! Our 11-year-old son had a blast playing with the kids and can't wait to see them again. (Their oldest was his age) Alex gave the stuffed doggie to the youngest boy and the kids all started tossing it back and forth, like a ball, having a great time. There was NOTHING like, "I want it! It's mine!" etc. Everyone just shared.
The Amish are very special people. I am honored to now be able to actually call them my friends.
My best,

E-mail No. 5

The first line of your blog, "We went to PA to shoot more" should be changed to "film more." I know it is unintentional, but it sounds insensitive.
Best Regards,
Jim Costello

ANSWER: Good point... sorry, I obviously was not thinking.

E-mail No. 6

Tell Dr. Baden the nut "almond" is pronounced "al-mond, not "am—mond". Also, you keep saying Washing D.C. instead of Washing-TON, D.C. You, like many other media persons, are aflicted with "Sloponics" — that dreaded disease brought on by trying to get to many words into a soundbite!
But I still love FOX News and Greta!
John D. Laskowski
Carsonville, PA

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