Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Wes Fager's letter to Bill O'Reilly on biased reporting by St Pete Times

We know that John Couey probably killed 9 year-old Jessica Lunsford. We know this because, according to the Citrus County Florida authorities who are holding him, he admitted to the killing. But this confession likely will not make it to trial. Why? Because Couey kept asking for an attorney but the authorities failed to get him one. What's more, at least three others may have abetted Couey in his flee to Georgia before being captured but none of them have been arrested. The abduction and murder of Jessica Lunsford made national news and the subsequent botching by Citrus County authorities has been the subject of criticism by FOX News host Bill O'Reilly and by U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite. Not surprisingly the once mighty St. Petersburg Times stood by the incomptence of the Citrus County's Sheriff's Office and the prosecutor's office. And when the national media criticized Florida officials The Times jumped all over Bill O'Reilly. For example, on June 21, 2005 The Times editorialized, "In recent weeks, Fox television's minister of misinformation Bill O'Reilly has attacked these law enforcement agencies and the St. Petersburg Times for their actions. 'They're covering up something there,' he has blustered, while offering not a shred of proof to back up this absurd conclusion."

Like PumpGate these things are highly predictable. The abduction and murder of a little girl makes national news. When the authorities botch the investigation, if the local press fails to report the failures, the national press will. The Times blasts O'Reilly for doing its job and O'Reilly blasts back interviewing a former Citrus County assistant prosecutor. That interview is here.

This is not the first time O'Reilly has crossed paths with The Times, though he doesn't realize it yet. My email to Bill O'Reilly explaining this follows:

Dear Bill:

You don't realize it but the blotched Jessica Lunsford investigation is not the first time you've crossed paths with the Tash/Barnes St. Petersburg Times. In April you had Calvina Fay of the St. Petersburg-based Drug Free America Foundation on your program as an expert on the ease it is for one to get medical marijuana. You disagreed with Ms. Fay on the use of marijuana by talk show host Montel Williams to ease the pain he suffers from MS. In January Montel aired a segment about a ruthless, amateurish former juvenile drug rehabilitation program called Straight, Inc. Over 40 former Straight clients have committed suicide. Straight was founded by former finance chair to the national GOP and US Ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler. Straight no longer treats kids for addictions and in 1995 changed its name to Drug Free America Foundation. Now people such as yourself are duped into calling on DFAF to defend national drug policy. And the reason you don't know any better is because The Times won't report on it because it is in Sembler's pockets and because a respected pediatrician and former Straight board was a medical writer for The Times.

Wes Fager

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