Did Obama Just Convict the Suspected Fort Hood Shooter?
2009 11 09

By Scott Butterworth | TheWashingtonPost.com


President Obama began his weekly Internet and radio address on Saturday with these words: "This past Thursday, on a clear Texas afternoon, an Army psychiatrist walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, and began shooting his fellow soldiers."

Did the president, speaking directly about the man suspected in the killings, prejudice any jury that might be called to hear the case? At the least, he appeared to fall afoul of a lesson that every journalism student -- and law student -- learns early: The safest way to avoid yourself some trouble is to couch such a flat assertion of guilt.

That is why news organizations scrambled to rewrite their stories Thursday night after an Army general changed his story about the suspected gunman. You can't libel the dead, goes the legal doctrine, and the general had said the gunman was dead. So the media felt pretty comfortable with stories asserting that Maj. Nidal M. Hasan was the man who had killed so many at the Army post.

But once Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the commander at Fort Hood, said that Hasan had not been killed but rather was hospitalized and in no imminent threat of dying, news anchors, reporters and editors hurried to add the words "suspected" and "allegedly" and "believed to have" to their scripts and stories.

Obama said the "act of violence" by the psychiatrist was "heartbreaking" and "despicable" and "horrified us." It was even "the worst of human nature on full display." The speech included not a single "reportedly."

Then again, Obama is not the first president to stray from the well-trod path of "not prejudging an investigation." For instance, President George W. Bush did so in December 2005, saying in an interview with the Fox News Channel that he believed former House majority leader Tom DeLay was innocent of money laundering and conspiracy charges.

Asked about whether Bush had just prejudged -- and prejudiced -- a criminal case, White House press secretary Scott McClellan replied, "Call it a presidential prerogative."

The Obama White House had no comment.

Article from: WashingtonPost.com



Related Articles
Restraint urged in Fort Hood speculation
Obama mourns the shootings at Fort Hood
Obamas to attend Fort Hood memorial Tuesday
Muslim groups fear backlash after Fort Hood shooting
Barack Obama 'insensitive' over his handling of Fort Hood shooting


Latest News from our Front Page

US Silent on Psychologists Role in CIA’s Tortures: Doctors
2014-12-20 21:53
Physicians for Human Rights had not received any response from the US Federal Commission to their call to investigate the role of health professionals in CIA’s torture program, Deputy Director of the organization told Sputnik. December 19 (Sputnik) — US government has not responded to calls to prosecute doctors, who participated in CIA torture program, the Deputy Director of Communications for ...
Ziolebrities: Simon Cowell donates £100,000 to Israeli soldiers to please pregnant jewish girlfriend Lauren Silverman
2014-12-20 21:00
Cowell, 54, is also planning a secret trip to Israel soon as he embraces the Jewish faith of Silverman, 36 Gala: Billionaire Haim Saban with Cowell Simon Cowell has publicly donated nearly £100,000 in support of the Israeli army. The X Factor boss pledged the cash to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces at a US fund-raiser in Beverly Hills. The lavish gala ...
Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak
2014-12-20 2:17
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack. Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job. Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times
2014-12-20 2:13
Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled. Via The Hollywood Reporter: After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move. “The ...
The Bankster International
2014-12-20 1:55
Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
More News »