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Blaming the messenger: Gibson implies Libby juror suspect

Reported by Chrish - March 6, 2007 -

John Gibson enlisted reporter Catherine Herridge, FOX Legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, and reporter Douglas Kennedy today 3/06/07 to diminish and quarrel over the 4 guilty verdicts for former Cheney Chief of Staff Scooter Libby. Their main focus was on the juror who spoke to reporters shortly after the verdicts, Denis Collins. Collins is a former journalist and the author of a book on spying, and the FOX folks are outraged that he was empaneled - even though he must have passed muster with the defense team.

Over soundless video of Collins and the words "Libby Guilty!" viewers heard Gibson announce that Libby was found guilty of four counts..."but did he get a fair trial? Turns out one juror was a journalist and even wrote a CIA expose. How'd this guy get on the jury?"

Immediately following his segment intro stating that Libby was found guilty and enumerating the charges, the video went to lead defense attorney Theodore Wells, who asserts Libby's total innocence, total innocence. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was next, stating that the prosecutors wished it (the lying, perjuring, and obstructing) had never happened, but it did.

In giving background on the investigation (Plame outing) that led to the charges against Libby, Gibson repeated his favorite tale that Plame authorized Wilson's fact-finding trip to Niger.

To Collins' remark that the jurors at times felt sympathetic to Libby and wondered why the other officials involved (specifically mentioned was Karl Rove) were not in court, Gibson retorted that he "sound(s) like an agenda juror," and wondered why a journalist was on the jury anyway.

Catherine Herridge was inside the courtroom and described the participants reactions to the verdicts much the same as we've heard elsewhere: Libby looked stunned, and his wife sobbed openly. The jurors were an intelligent lot with several Ph. D.s, and some of them appeared angry when they were polled by the judge after the verdicts were read. The graphic shown during her report failed to mention the more serious charges of obstruction of justice and perjury:

ssLibbyBS030607.png

Bringing Judge Andrew Napolitano (JAN) into the discussion, Gibson couldn't resist trying to make a parallel between Libby and Sandy Berger - the resolution of that case is not to Gibson's liking and he won't let it go. JAN pretty much ignored the non sequitur and said that what hurt Libby was his failure to testify in his own behalf, and Wells' assertion in opening statements that jurors would hear from the defendant. JAN seemed certain that Bush would pardon Libby while he is still in office - Libby was part of the "inner circle", and Bush "did not believe in the prosecution." As they ran out of time, he said that it was a mistake for the defense to accept Collins as a juror.

Douglas Kennedy joined Gibson in a later segment titled "Juror Shocker" and Gibson immediately impugned Denis Collins, saying trials are supposed to be heard by a fair and impartial jury, BUT "one juror ... demonstrated immediately after today's verdict that he may not have been as impartial as people would like."

Kennedy was there to give more background and explain how Collins "managed to steal the spotlight today." Kennedy mischaracterized Collins as a current journalist for the Washington Post, one of the media outlets involved in the trial. However, Collins said "I was a reporter for a lot of years," and an article at Editor and Publisher states his former colleagues at the Washington Post remember him as a fair, energetic guy.

A defense attorney (Steven Greenberg) was brought on in clips to reinforce the message that a journalist wouldn't buy the defense of "I don't remember" a meeting with a fellow journalist, and author of a spy-themed book with "an intimate knowledge of the CIA" would "probably" be sympathetic to Valerie Plame, which was really what this case was all about. (X! wrong, try again.)

Kennedy admitted that legal experts agree this juror's background is not grounds for appeal. Either the defense found him to be a safe bet or they ran out of challenges.

It would be easy to get sucked into a debate about the wisdom of choosing particular jurors, for a variety of reasons, and blame the verdicts on those jurors' prejudices. But jury selection is a lengthy process conducted by professionals, with each side having equal input and veto power to ensure the fairest jury available. To try to point a finger at Collins ignores all the other jurors, the mountains of evidence, and the painstaking and thorough job of analysis these folks did. Shame on Gibson and his cohorts for smearing the juror to bolster their guy, the convicted felon.