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The big debate: Should we take the show "on the road" to the Michael Jackson (search) case or not? There are so many stories to cover and the travel from the East Coast to the West Coast is rough. There are no flights after I finish the show on a weeknight and I need to get there in time for the show the following day. The airline schedules just don't play ball with us so it is a huge juggle to take the show across country. People often ask if we (FOX) have a private jet — the answer is no. We travel commercial. We eat the same lousy airline food you do when the airline happens to serve it... which is increasingly rare. And, when I travel, I am told at least five times in the airport — I am not kidding — that I am so short. People must think that I am a seven foot monster.
There is a part of me that wants to see the Jackson trial first hand. I find trials, in general, fascinating, not fun. I do, however, hate to see someone "self destruct" in front of me — guilty or not. I am not soft on crime — I can return a guilty verdict when proven beyond a reasonable doubt — but it still is not something I enjoy. Even if the jury concludes that Jackson is not guilty, I have heard more about him than I want to know. Yes, he got himself into this... whether guilty or not... but I would have preferred a different life for him than the one he has created for himself.
Jim Hammer and Laura Ingle have been pounding me to come out to California — but so far (obviously) I have not. It is true that you learn so much more from going to a story and listening and watching first hand... so, I am "throwing in the towel" and heading to California today. It helps immensely that today is a holiday and we are airing the Jack Hanna zoo special. This allows me to travel to California easily.
Incidentally — and this is a tease — I am not going straight home from the Jackson trial. have a special interview set up that I must stop and do en route home at the end of the week. You can start guessing now who it is…
Now for some random e-mails from viewers:
E-mail No. 1
What should have been a matter between police and family got blown way out of proportion by the media. There probably were no real signs of foul play since I doubt she tore her own hair out by the roots, so the supposed "clue" was a cut lock of hair which just reeks of melodrama. With so many real problems in the world, the time wasted on this kind of soapy drama, with FOX sadly leading the pack, undermines the seriousness of real human tragedies. Maybe Winona Ryder could crazy glue her eyes and play the part. It's the boy who cried wolf syndrome.
P.S. I'd love to see this letter get posted... Dare you
ANSWER: Lori, I took the dare. Frankly, I think you are wrong. When a woman (or man) says, "I am going out for a jog and will be back in 45 minutes" and does not return, it is a fair assumption that the person had an emergency medical problem or met with foul play. The "cut hair," a clue that arose several days later, was bizarre and in no way said to me that this was not a woman in trouble. When she first vanished, her family and his family were very upset (as you might imagine) and grateful to us for broadcasting her picture coast to coast. They wanted tips from people who might know something about her.
I wish we could provide that kind of coverage for ALL the missing people in this country — we do air some, but to do all is an impossibility. Unfortunately, we have literally hundreds — maybe thousands — of missing people in this country. Once she was found, her disappearance became a bigger story (even People Magazine did a huge story on it.) It became a bigger story since the details of her disappearance are bizarre. Since we started the story, we continue to follow it rather than dropping it. When we start a story, we don't know how or when it will end. I do admit that we don't follow all stories to the very end that we start — and I wish we had time to do so.
E-mail No. 2
I am sick of hearing about Michael Jackson. Don't you ever have anything important to blog about? There are some very important issues out here and all you do is write about inane matters which have no relevance to the well being of our country. I am so sick of your overblown coverage of trials on your show, I have tuned you out! Rita Cosby was more interesting than you!
E-mail No. 3
This is very clever. If John Mason writes the book before they're married, then no charges of profiting from crime can be made. I think she should profit from her crime so she can pay back the city. That's a lot of money and she might be tapped out from all the wedding expenses. I think she's a nurse and they don't make that much money, and who knows how soon she'll go back to work if at all anyway. Some people are short sighted and care more about a concept than the practicalities of the situation.
Star Jones thinks the executed killer who wanted to give his liver to his sister shouldn't because it'd provide something good to say about him. Better she die than that. Very odd reasoning.
E-mail No. 4
I like your show for the most part, but I think you are way too soft on the "Runaway Bride". I live and work pretty close to Duluth, and I don't know what the public thinks, but I think they ought to throw the book at her. No way should she get off with paying $13,000 dollars to get out of this. One of her problems is likely to be that she has never had to face the consequences of her actions. Her parents or someone else has always managed to bail her out of any trouble she got into. Let her pull a couple of years, and she'll be singing a different tune when she gets out. And if John Mason is still waiting on her then, he is a complete idiot. I hope no one gives him any money to write a book, and if they do, I hope nobody buys it. Why would you think that he would have anything to say that I should listen too? These people need to spend some of their money and buy themselves a real life.
ANSWER: Ron — I appreciate your note... Greta
E-mail No. 5
OK, Greta, now I've heard it all. Talk about 15 minutes of fame... when I think of the entire fiasco and all the police, TV and media time that was wasted on these two Georgia nuts, I'm sick. (OK, I admit it, I'm the most annoyed at their wasting "On the Record's" time...)
Let John Mason write his book... let his nutty girlfriend help him... let the two of get married and spend the rest of their lives together (they certainly deserve each other!)... but make them pay back every penny the police and town spent first... and then , as in all these other media-seeking-people-instances, I hope to see the book within a few months in my local Dollar Store.
E-mail No. 6
I cannot believe that the groom-in-waiting is going to write a book! I guess it's true that people will darn near do anything for the almighty dollar — including giving up their self-respect to write about 4 or 5 days of a story that ends up being about a poor little rich girl who can't cope with stress.
Big deal! How he'll be able to draw this thing into 100 pages is beyond me, but I guess it'll be filled with lots of stunning remarks, like, "I dunno." If any publisher gives him a cent for this ridiculously overblown story, the literary world will be poorer for it.
E-mail No. 7
I really enjoyed your segment with Sen. Dole last night! I visited some friends in Baltimore back in March and we spent one day in DC. I walked in awe through the WWII memorial. As you said, it was long overdue! A very fitting tribute to those men and women! As you also mentioned, regarding the other memorials, the Vietnam memorial is very solemn. But to me, the Korean War memorial had a very emotional impact on me. The statues give such a sense of cold and fear. But when I walked up to the wall and saw all those faces looking back from the black stone, I was hit be a wave of emotion and I stood there with tears running down my face as I looked at all the people. The actual face of a real person has a far bigger impact on me than just a name.
I'm not saying there should be a competition to whose memorial is better. On Memorial Day we need to remember all Americans that have served their countries. (The Confederate soldiers served their country, the CSA, but were still Americans) We are in their debt and monuments of stone and metal are the very least we can do for them.
ANSWER: I have never seen the Korean War Memorial. I should go see it....
E-mail No. 8
What a waste of time, having all of those meaningless pictures of the "Idaho Murder Mystery", on your Web site. Looks as though someone was bored and took vacation pics. And to keep repeating: 'Father of missing children' — he surely has a name. I'm thinking maybe it's time you go back to CNN, or wherever you came from, if you want to sensationalize every story you come across... get real!
ANSWER: Could someone please run over to Jeff's house! Apparently someone is FORCING him to look at the blog and he needs help to free himself of the blog. Poor Jeff... help Jeff ! Please, please, please help him! I am worried about Jeff... His valuable time is being wasted by someone forcing him to read the blog!
E-mail No. 9 — e-mail from Laura Ingle as the Jackson trial nears the end:
Subject: Laura note
Preparations for the end of the Michael Jackson trial are going on in Santa Maria. Media outlets are coming in by the droves (on top of the huge circus already in place) to set up and capture the moment that Jackson is cuffed and hauled to jail, OR the sight of him walking out of court a free man, leaving in his black SUV caravan for the last time. Covering big trials is a little like going away to camp. You spend months and months on the road living the story, then when you see the finish line, it can seem strange. You never really feel like its going to end, but then you see the plans go into place for the last "act" and you know it's coming. The other day, reporters got a note from the media pool producer explaining where all the cameras will be for the reading of the verdict, the possible JAILHOUSE live shot locations, plans if needed to cover the "Perp walk" to the sally port passage way out of courthouse to the vehicle for inmate transport. I can also tell you that I have heard there may be a party plan in the works for Jackson by his people if he is found not guilty.
The 62nd day of trial Friday was a wild day with both sides resting it's cases. The reason this was such a surprise, was that, Friday morning, D.A. Tom Sneddon said he planned on resting his rebuttal case Tuesday... which meant the defense wouldn't be doing its rebuttal until then. Tom Mesereau had said he was going to recall the accuser and his mother at least, which would have meant many more days before the jury would get the case. When reporters heard the prosecution rest, we all looked over at the defense table to see what would happen, Mesereau asked for a moment, huddled up with attorneys and Jackson, and with a gasp heard around Santa Maria, the words: "the defense rests."
Reporters ran for the doors and cameras fired up, and it felt like a bolt of electricity had hit the court campus. It appears now, the panel could start deliberating by the end of this coming week. Tuesday, the attorneys and judge will go over jury instructions, outside the presence of jury!
Tuesday afternoon, jurors will call a secret phone number they've been given to find out if they are supposed to come back Wednesday for closing arguments.
There was talk that Jackson's fan clubs (most international) had wanted to erect a set of bleachers across the street from the courthouse to watch the end of the case. I've heard the clubs have been turned down. While the Jackson fan base has dwindled to 60-80 people on most days, I have a feeling that there will be hundreds in the streets for this monumental end to the biggest celebrity trial we have seen in recent years.
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