Thursday, November 19, 2009

LTG 11/18/09 - Blitzing Wolf

From the Omaha CityWeekly, 11/18/09 - 11/24/09


Law Talking Guy
Blitzing Wolf
By: Patrick Runge
Issue: November 18, 2009

Let me say this up front, in the interest of full disclosure. I loathe Wolf Blitzer. I think he’s a vacuous, spineless, unintelligent, slow-witted sycophant. I think he lacks the intellectual capacity to ask a challenging question to a newsmaker and the courage to ask one even if he could think of it. He’s the real-life Ron Burgundy from Will Ferrell’s “Anchorman” movie without the cool moustache. He’s the personification of the descent of television news from actual journalism to celebrity tabloid titillation.

In other words, I don’t particularly care for him.

Last week, I was reminded why I have such a low opinion of Blitzer. In “The Situation Room” (which I believe is next to the conservatory where Colonel Mustard killed Mr. Boddy with the lead pipe) Blitzer was interviewing Col. John Galligan, an attorney for Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan, the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood massacre. Here’s what Blitzer asked Galligan after his interview was announced.

“They asked me, how could a retired U.S. military officer, a full colonel, go ahead and represent someone accused of mass murder? And I want you to explain to our viewers why you’re doing this.”

Cue outrage and righteous indignation from the Law-Talking Guy.

Seriously, Wolf? You don’t mind if I call you Wolf, do you? I mean, after all, it enhances your tough-guy image, right? Anyway, Wolf, are you really dumb enough to believe this line or are you simply playing to the angry-and-stupid portion of your demographic? Were you hoping to catch people surfing for Glenn Beck with a little vigilante justice demagoguery?

Galligan, to his credit, reminded Blitzer about these apparently foreign concepts like fair trials and due process, and how in America everyone has the right to a day in court. Apparently those nuggets of logic couldn’t penetrate the gel in Blitzer’s hair deep enough to seep into his brain, as he closed the interview with this quote.

“I’m sure he will get a much fairer hearing than those 13 Americans who were brutally gunned down the other day.”

Attaboy, Wolf. Apparently in the world according to Wolf (let’s just call it “Blitzerland”), if people are angry about a crime then the police should round up the first suspect, have a quick show trial without a lawyer for the accused, and execute the guy on the spot. Nuts to that whole fair trial, due process, protection of freedom notion that’s in the Constitution. In Blitzerland, it’s all about talking tough and stoking the fires of knee-jerk rage.

Of course, in Blitzerland, we’d all be required to have tough, rugged-sounding names. I’m thinking of going with Hawk Knifestab or Johnny Gutpunch.

Anyway, Wolf, you’re a news guy. Perhaps you remember the Duke lacrosse rape case. It was quite the sensational news item. A whole bunch of preppy rich white kids were accused of gang-raping a poor black woman. Remember how angry everyone was at those Duke kids? This would have been a perfect time to exercise your Blitzerland rules and lock those evil racist rapists away toot sweet, without the need for a pesky trial.

Except, of course, that those kids were innocent. Whoops.

How about Richard Jewell? Remember him, Wolf? He was the guy that people thought was responsible for the 1996 bombing of Olympic Park in Atlanta during the Summer Games. That was such a big news story, and you could have gotten great ratings for “The Situation Room” pronouncing him guilty 12 seconds after his arrest and banging the drum for his execution the following week.

Except, of course, he was innocent. Whoops.

I’ll try to use small words, Wolf, to make it easier for you to understand. Being free means you get to have a fair trial when you’re accused of a crime. It means you get a lawyer, even a free lawyer, to make sure that the government can only punish someone after proving beyond a reasonable doubt that person committed a crime.

The case against Hassan looks pretty open-and-shut right now. And I doubt very seriously there are many non-crazy people who want to see Hassan go unpunished – if he’s found guilty after a fair trial. But apparently, Wolf, you have so little faith in the American system of justice that you don’t think he can be convicted in a fair trial. You think we have to rig the system to make sure he gets convicted. And if a few innocent people get the long walk to Ol’ Sparky as a result of that precedent, well, too bad.

That’s not America, Wolf. It may be how it works in Blitzerland, and it’s certainly how it works in Iran, China, Cuba, North Korea and all the other totalitarian regimes around the world. It’s how the Taliban mete out their brand of “justice” in the areas they control. I thought that’s what we were fighting against, but I don’t have a manly name or great hair like you, so what do I know?

Your colleague, Lou Dobbs, recently left CNN for his inevitable appearance on FOX News. Feel free to follow, and leave the news for real journalists to cover.

Patrick Runge has practiced law in the Omaha area since earning his degree from Creighton University in 1994. He has also written for the Omaha Pulp, Millard Avenues and UNO’s Gateway. E-mail him at

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