Courtroom Drama

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First, my apologies to Senator Orrin Hatch (search). He was on our show Friday night and we were enjoying a debate about the judicial nomination process and the satellite went out. Suddenly I went from looking at the senator in my monitor to looking at some color bars. During the commercial break that followed, I asked my staff in New York to call the senator at the remote studio in Salt Lake City and apologize for the technical glitch.

Second, let me answer the two complaints about the segment — which were multiple in number. It is more efficient that I answer here in the blog than answer every single e-mail criticizing the segment.

Complaint No. 1: There was no Democratic senator on with Senator Hatch.

Answer: We tried to book a Democratic senator on the topic. My bookers called and called and called and called. If a senator of an opposing party will not do the show, I will do the segment anyway and "take on" the one who does appear myself. That is what I did. A huge element of "fair and balanced" to me means "opportunity." The Democrats had many opportunities to appear on Friday night, but no one availed himself of the opportunity. Bottom line: We tried very, very, very hard to book a Democratic Senator. It would be unfair if we had not tried very hard to book a Democrat or if I had neglected t challenge Senator Hatch.

Complaint No. 2: That I took on Senator Hatch with what some called "Democratic talking points."

Answer: First, I did not get any "Democratic talking points" — I do my own work. I am not so feeble minded that I wait for others to tell me what to say. I study hard and try and do my best. Second, it is my job to challenge the guest. If a Democratic senator had appeared, and not a Republican, he or she would have received the same challenge from me.

Finally, you should know that I think we, the American people, are not getting the straight story about judicial nominations from either the Republicans or the Democrats. Members of each party prefers to point fingers at the other and ignore the history or take the blame for its party's past actions. Both parties have been playing a grudge match for years with judicial nominations and the justice system and you suffer.

To give you an idea of the games, and if you wonder if it is "right" or "fair" that a filibuster may now prevent a full Senate vote on the judges now nominated by President Bush, let me tell you some history: Two lawyers I know — one now the dean of the Harvard Law School — did not even get a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee when President Clinton nominated them. The then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee would not schedule these two lawyers for hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee and thus "pocket vetoed" the nominations. Why? Because it was an opposing president's nomination.

No one will ever know whether these two would have made great judges since no senator ever bothered to even ask them one question. These nominees never got a hearing or thus a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and hence never got to the floor of the full Senate for consideration. Game? Yes. Rude? Yes. Fair? I don't think so. Frankly, besides being petty — it was mean since these two lawyers should have at least had a chance to be considered once nominated. I don't know what the vote for these two should have been — I only know that they never even got a vote by the committee since they never were given the courtesy of a hearing.

I am frustrated with both parties when it comes to judicial nominations. They think they can fool us. Don't be fooled. Both parties do it. They should stop this silliness now and they should stop pretending it is the other party that is doing it. They must think we are stupid.

I have posted several e-mails below about the handcuffing of the 5-year-old student in Florida. I just grabbed the first few I saw — there was no effort to get an even number on either side of the debate. It is also hard to tell from the many we got if more were in favor or opposed to what the police did.

E-mail No. 1

You spent way too much time on the disappearance and search for missing D.A. Ray Gricar (search) on your program the other night. Apparently this misfit offed himself or dropped out without a word, intending to confound law enforcement with his mysterious disappearance. You probably played right into is game by airing a lot of speculation. Since this guy was of no interest before his disappearance, his prank does not make him worthy of interest now, especially since there is no evidence of foul play.
Otherwise, keep up the good work.
Ed Carlstead
Denver, CO

E-mail No. 2

I am sure my comments will be unpopular, however I cannot help but wonder if this little girl would have lived if her father had been home all night instead of at his girlfriend's all night until 6:30 a.m.? I realize it doesn't help Jessica now, but perhaps other parents might consider a different lifestyle if it meant their child would be protected by their presence in the home.

E-mail No. 3

As much I have enjoyed you shows, you started to lean to the right too much to be Fair and Balanced. Even my wife has noticed it as we have always follow and watch your shows. Sorry, but you are losing me and my wife as a viewer. We were also stupid enough to have voted for Bush who has been leading us down to self-destruction. Hope you are allowed to go back to your old format or we will be moving on to another network. Your show is the only show on FOX that I will watch. Hope you can go back to your old show.
T.O. Bratcher and family

Answer: Every night I get e-mails saying I am too far to the right and I get e-mails saying — the same night — that I am too far to the left. It is amazing that viewers write very different things about me for the "same" segment on the same night. Of course I can't be both at the same time in the same segment. What is different is the vantage point of the person watching the segment and then sending the e-mail. If you are very, very conservative — you will think I am to the left. Likewise, if you are very, very liberal, you will think I am to your right. All I can say to those who feel I am too far left, or too far right is that I try my best to be fair, to challenge guests, to elicit facts, etc. I can do more than try. I assume that viewers are smart and will reach their own opinions about the subject matters and not be unduly influenced by me or by others they watch on TV.

One other thing that we must all be careful about: Make sure you don't fall into the trap of thinking only things you agree with are "fair." That is an easy trap for us all since who would want to think he or she is not fair?

E-mail No. 4

Dear Greta,
I am a schoolteacher who was in this same situation with a kindergarten student. The student was totally out of control on several occasions. Other staff members and myself have had to literally carry the student out of the room so that the student would not harm other students or themselves by throwing chairs etc. Fortunately, she would eventually calm down, however, the process is unbearable. The student is kicking, screaming, and hitting. You are very concerned with the child’s safety and your own. You are always concerned of whether or not your restraint will be considered too much force and most teachers and principals are not trained to restrain students properly. It is in the best interest of the student and the staff members to contact the police for help. Police officers are at least trained to handle uncontrollable people. Parents of these types of students often cannot be reached to help.
It doesn’t matter if someone is 5 or 55 when they are out of control. It is easy to sit and watch and talk about a child’s age and how a person should be able to handle this situation, but they have no idea until you are actually in this situation. Talk is cheap.

E-mail No. 5

Hi Greta,
I watch your show every morning and I enjoy it very much but I am writing about the little girl who was handcuffed by the police, I could see by the tape she was getting out of control but did the police have to handcuff her, she is only five years old. I was quite shocked to see that, it would have caused an outcry here in the U.K. if that had happened here.
I was shocked to see a five year old in handcuffs, is that what they do in America? Why couldn't the teachers have handled this better? And what happened to the little girl, was she put in a police cell?
Best wishes,

E-mail No. 6

The problem is not with the cops. It is with the child's home-life. Nothing has been said about a "father," therefore I'm leaning towards the fact that the mother is a single parent. If so, that child might have been tired and hungry. Her diet might be junk food. Don't blame the teachers, or the cops. I know! I've been there. Most of my young life, I was cold and hungry. Yes! I was angry. I was afraid. I felt un-loved. I wanted to fight.
Alice S. Gallman
Columbia, SC

E-mail No. 7

I just watched your segment on the little 5-year-old who was out of control and had to be handcuffed. I applaud the police being called in to control this wild child's tantrum. In the old days, a child throwing such a tantrum would have been sent to the principal's office and probably paddled. Children today have it too easy. People who think that sending a child like that to a "time out" believe it to be some sort of magic cure all that will make the child behave. In my opinion it is sending the wrong message to these children. If we did wrong or misbehaved, we did so with every expectation of getting a spanking. We were taught to respect ourselves and others and to behave. Sending a child to a time out space to give them more time to think of new ways to be defiant is not going to solve the problem. These children need to be shown that such tantrums will not be tolerated. If necessary, show them the good old-fashioned way. There is a big difference between teaching a child the difference between right and wrong and abuse. Anyone who thinks that babying a child is the only way to solve a disciplinary problem such as this is only making that child believe that tantrums will get them their own way which as anyone over the age of 6 should know isn't true. Wake up and smell the coffee! Children will be children, but anyone who is any kind of a decent parent at all knows that the real world requires hard work for what is received. Not tantrums and diaper changes.

E-mail No. 8

If the school had laid a hand on her they would have most probably had a law suit and for sure ... if she is acting out this way ... she has a big problem which I would believe if she was 12 or more she would not just be kicking and punching! I think the school did all they could not to be sued ... and maybe she needs a wake up call ... I have never seen anything like this in my years ... where is the respect of her teachers ... just let them get kicked and punched ... I feel worse for the teacher than her ... apparently she has some home problems of her own!
Philadelphia, PA

E-mail No. 9

That five-year-old child was out of control and it was appropriate to handcuff her. She could kick the teacher/other children in the head or face and cause serious damage to them. She should have received a hard spanking with a wooden paddle and "then" put in a straight jacket. Good thing you are no longer practicing law; maybe you would be unfortunate enough to get her for your client.

E-mail No. 10

I give great kudos to the teacher. Not only was the girl kicking and swinging, I saw her spit on the teacher. I know the little girl was only five, but for the teacher to show such restraint and not be more forceful was really commendable.
If they would have had a bigger teacher come in and grab her to take her out of there and hold her, and then the girl ends up with bruises, the girl's mother probably would have still sued them and said why did you have to do that to a little girl ... so, the school was in a no win situation.
Michael Beckman
Houston, TX

E-mail No. 11

The idea that three police officers actually handcuffed a 5-year-old child is upsetting and appalling. It was obvious that the child was lashing out for some reason; however, by the time the officers approached, it is quite visible that the 5 year old was sitting calmly in a chair. What in the world possessed these adults to have her stand up to handcuff her? She was not a criminal — she was a child under some sort of stress. Why didn’t one of the officers or school officials try to sit down with her while she was calmed down and just talk to her — about anything that might keep her calm until her mother arrived? Even if one of the adults (and I use that lightly) had just stood nearby without saying anything — she appeared to have calmed down. Why upset her again? And in such a horrible way! I can’t see how this will not have a lasting effect on her.
The officers were wrong in what they did and the school officials should not have allowed it to happen!
Frederick, MD

E-mail No. 12

Unbelievable! I am shocked by the story you aired tonight about a 5 year old being handcuffed for getting out of line at school! I know kids can get out of control but this is a 5 year old, surely a group of adults could come up with a better way to diffuse that situation than putting handcuffs on what had to be an already very upset, confused and scared child! I watched the footage and you can clearly see that the poor little girl is upset, and there has got to be something going on in her young life that leads her to act out this way. Perhaps some compassion when this situation was escalating would have done much more to calm her than battling her and slapping handcuffs on her like some common criminal. It makes me sad to think of what was going through her young mind. I know neither educators nor law enforcement officials have an easy career and I give them all the respect in the world (I formerly was a teacher myself), but several adults to handle a 5 year old and the use of handcuffs? It seems very extreme!
Omaha, NE

E-mail No. 13

Ha-ha-ha! Greta, you make me laugh. When you just said, "Well that's one way to win my argument" because the satellite feed was lost! Ha-ha. Great recovery and what quick wit!

E-mail No. 14

The Democrats must be in control of the satellite ... that it was shut down during the interview with Senator Orrin Hatch.
Lorraine Freeman-Paulus

E-mail No. 15 — this next e-mail is about the couple in Philadelphia who left a bar about 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 19:

I truly believe that these two people were carjacked somewhere … and most probably the car was stolen and chopped up for parts. There are a lot of bad neighborhoods not too far from this area! As the area is quite mixed sort of like the village a bit ... otherwise the car would have been found by now. If that car was a desirable auto, it could have been disposed of quickly!
God knows what could have happened to them.
Philadelphia, PA

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