[Fox has legally established the right to present lies as news and therefore one of the unintended consequences of that judicial ruling is that individual consumers of political punditry (such as this column) are solely responsible for any concomitant fact checking deemed appropriate.]
"Cemetery John," written by Robert Zorn (The Overlook Press,
New York N.Y. -2012) slowly and methodically dismantles the case against Bruno
Richard Hauptmann, who was tried and executed for participating in the theft of
some children's clothes from the home of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh. Any reader of this column who assumes that
Hauptmann was fried in New Jersey's
electrical chair because he was found guilty of the murder of the kidnapped
baby has probably relied on other less comprehensive reports about the
notorious crime. In "Don't Know Much
about History," author Kenneth C. Davis blithely informs his readers " . . .
but the evidence in the case was always strong against him (Hauptmann)." ("What we have here is . . . failure to
Zorn's book not only contradicts the conventional wisdom about Richard Bruno Hauptmann, he names a specific person as the mastermind of the famous heinous crime and builds an extensive case to bolster his assertion.
According to Zorn, academics have formulated a computer
program that achieves a much higher accuracy rating for handwriting analysis
than the human experts have scored in the past. This innovative example of computer
superiority confirms that his suspect actually wrote (at last parts of) the
ransom notes delivered to Col. Lindbergh.
Dr. John F. Condon, whose initials JFC were used to derive his handle as Jafsie, served as the go-between for negotiations with a suspect (or suspects?) demanding money from the Lindberghs for the safe return of the baby.
Dr. Condon spoke directly to a suspect and later was
reluctant to swear that Hauptmann was the person with whom he spoke. Initial descriptions of the suspect given to
police after his first encounter with an alleged kidnapper contradict the
physical appearance of the man who was executed in the electric chair for being
the one and only perpetrator of the vile deed.
Dr. Condon, AKA Jafsie, was, according to Zorn, coerced into upgrading
his level of certainty and eliminating all his previously expressed doubts about
Hauptmann being the man to whom Dr. Condon, at a second meeting, handed the
Zorn raises a question about the possibility that the "Trial of the Century" actually took place in a location that did not legally have jurisdiction over the matter.
The conviction and execution of Hauptmann provided a
foundation for a wide variety of careers for lawyers, politicians and police
officials. In the Thirties, any
assertions about gaps in logic concerning the case quickly earned the
sensational publicity seeking source a major amount of ridicule and
(subsequently) a chance for inclusion in the Conspiracy Theory Hall of Fame.
Zorn alleges that some of the seats in the court room were sold by a local police official. Coverage of the sensational trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann provided a springboard to fame for some of the journalists who reported on the proceedings. Columnist Walter Winchell was one of those lucky individuals.
The antediluvian (has using big words gone out of fashion?)
columnists' technique, called three dot journalism, of using an ellipse to
separate unrelated items has been superseded by the trend to streamline the
demands on a reader's attention span by adhering to the policy of one topic per
column, but in the era of channel surfing via the remote control, perhaps the
eclipse of the ellipse style will end?
Could separate and distinct topics, such as gun control, filibustering and storm damage legislation, which were separated by the use of three dot journalism, actually have a narrative thread which connects them all together?
With the new rules for filibustering, could a Senator
introduce a ban on assault rifles with a dramatic public announcement which
delights advocates of gun control and then later use the recently amended
filibuster rules to anonymously kill the possibility of having a vote on that
item and thus win the continuing supply of campaign donations from various gun
supporting groups? Aren't all things
possible through prayer?
Voters in California, who are "news junkies," may have heard some (one or two?) disturbing rumors, last week, that both of their Democratic Senators allegedly gave stealth support to the piss poor filibuster reform measure that was approved by the Senate. According to one radio report, a Senator who disapproved of the anemic reform actually told reporters the names of Quisling Democratic Senators who had quietly betrayed their constituents but he was quickly silenced (by senior Democratic Party officials?).
As the World's Laziest Journalist understands it, the new
filibuster rules present very ominous possibilities that only a vigilant free
press can prevent. At the end of
December, the Congressional vote on Sandy Storm relief was postponed until
after the New Year's holiday. The first
day of the New Year, it was given immediate Congressional approval amid much
loud hosannas in the news media. Most
folks didn't notice the small footnote attached to the story: Since a new congress was being sworn in, the
approval of the measure by Congress meant that to be enacted into law it had to
re-win approval in the Senate.
Those good ole boys in the Senate were, as the new session got started, mighty busy with filibuster reform, gun control, the annual State of the Union name calling competition, and (tah dah dah dutt dutt daaaahhh!) immigration reform and so it is possible that in all that excitement they have forgotten how many bills, such as the Storm relief bill, needed to be passed. Now, they have to ask themselves another question: "How many of the voters will notice/care?" To which we can only add the traditional San Francisco question: "Well, do ya, punk?"
In a country that is known for its dedication to a free
press and truth, fretting about this slight oversight going unnoticed is
probably a fool's errand. Since the
World's Laziest Journalist's headquarters operates with limited access to
commentary in the free press (the access costs money) we might have missed
ample examples of instances where this possible sin of omission has been
mentioned. If it has not, then just as
soon as the posse known as the New York Times national desk reads this column,
they will (we must assume) pen a lead editorial calling the Senate to task for
the glaring political fumble.