I just finished watching Anderson Cooper’s 360 discussion on the Warren Jeffs story tonight in his Crime and Punishment segment. Some how, his signature statement of how he and every contributor to his program is keeping someone or another honest just got lost in the shuffle.From the very beginning of the story, Cooper’s dishonesty–or simply lazy research and reporting were mind boggling.
This was Anderson Cooper’s lead to Warren Jeffs’ story:
Roll video tape of FLDS women and children being herded out of their FLDS Texas Compound while Anderson pontificates:
And later: Remember those raids on that polygamist compound, the kids being taken off, the leader Warren Jeffs arrested, convicted of being an accomplice to rape? Today his conviction was overturned. Our question, what does this mean for for him and his followers? We’ll talk to Carolyn Jessop who escaped fropm the sect , Jeffrey Tubin on why the verdict was overturned, and author Jon Krauker in Crime and Punishment tonight.
Anderson later described the FLDS sect as a “secret cult”, and had as his two primary guests, Carolyn Jessop hardly an unbiased guest to discuss FLDS issues and Warren Jeffs, and Jon Kraukauer–lauding his “best selling” book Under the Banner of Heaven.
Of course, nowhere in the segment does Cooper disclose the fact that Warren Jeffs was not arrested in conjunction with the FLDS raid. In fact, he had been arrested long before that raid, and was serving time in prison. Presumably Anderson knows that–but that fact doesn’t make for quite as splashy a lead to this story. Or, perhaps Anderson is actually ignorant of the fact that Warren Jeffs was actually arrested out side of Las Vegas while a fugitive from justice. He had nothing to do with the botched Texas CPS raid at the Texas Compound of the FLDS. Anderson must either be ignorant, or just plain lazy. I mean the guy who is busy keeping everyone honest every night for two hours on CNN couldn’t possibly be lying on his own show.
Anderson gave the preeminent legal scholar/mountain climber Jon Krauuker an unrestricted forum to discuss his warped views on the case:
The case was overturned on a technicality He was an accomplice as much as as if had locked the door to the bedroom and tied her to the bed. Yet the Utah Supreme Court in this very narrow and unpersuasive interpretation of the law–it’s a terrible blow.” “It’s a terrible decision”.
Of course, Jon Krauker is an experienced mountain climber, and author of the best selling Under the Banner of Heaven–a book in which Krauker’s anti-Mormon bent is apparent. See the Church’s response to Krakuer and the Banner of Heaven here.
Jeffrey Toobin’s analysis boiled down to this:
This opinion, I find a disgrace. It is the very definition of a technicality. It has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence.
Well, of course the supreme court’s decision is not going to deal with Jeffs’ guilt or innocence. Appellate courts don’t make determinations of guilt or innocence. They make rulings dealing with issues of law, i.e., whether there was a prejudicial error at the trial level, which is what they found here. Jeffs was entitled to a specific jury instruction that the trial judge refused to give. The defense appealed that ruling, and a unanimous Utah Supreme Court, comprised of justices with far more legal experience, as appellate court justices but also much greater familiarity with Utah Criminal Procedure and Constitutional issues looked carefully at the issues and decided Warren Jeffs is entitled to a new trial. They didn’t decide he was innocent or guilty–nor where they asked to do so.
The segment then descended from the ridiculous to the truly bizzare. Anderson Cooper asked Jeffrey Toobin:
Do you think politics played a role in this, in Utah?
Toobin’s insightful response:
I just don’t know enough about the Utah Supreme Court. But, you know, this is a very unusual ground to over turn a conviction.
Nonsense. Appellate courts overturn trial convictions all the time on erroneous jury instructions. This happens in both civil and criminal trials and is likely one of the more common reasons an appellate court would overturn a trial conviction. And, did I mention the decision was unanimous? All the Utah Supreme Court Justices agreed–it wasn’t close. So, Jeffrey Toobin knows enough Utah appellate and criminal procedure law to criticize the opinion, but doesn’t know enough about the Utah justices to call Anderson Cooper on such an absurd political conspiracy question?
Not to be outdone, however, Jon Krakauer wasn’t going to let Anderson Cooper’s opening of a potential political conspiracy just lie there. Not on your life. No, Krakauer–true to form–adds a religious component taking a swipe at the LDS Church leadership, tying them into a conspiracy with the Utah Supreme Court Justices to coverup child abuse in the LDS Church:
I for one do not doubt that there may have been a political basis for this decision, given the five justices on the supreme court’s close ties to the LDS Church and the LDS Churches own concerns with sexual abuse and what this says about you know how you can tie someone who compelled the abuse but didn’t actually commit the rape–how he can be held accountable–that’s a scary thing for some members high up in the LDS Church.
Wow–just Wow! Krakauer on national cable television accuses all of the Utah Supreme Court Justices of conspiring with some unidentified persons in high leadership positions of the Mormon Church of covering up sexual abuse. Yet in response, not one “Keeping them Honest” mantras from Anderson Cooper to Krakauer after that bombshell accusation. Not even a raided eyebrow.
The only question remaining: Anderson–who keeps you honest? . . .