Did Obama Just Convict the Suspected Fort Hood Shooter?
2009-11-09 0:00

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

German cabinet approves IS mission
2015-12-01 18:33
The German frigate Sachsen would be sent to support the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle The German cabinet has backed plans for military support in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria. Tornado reconnaissance aircraft, a naval frigate and a 1,200-strong force will be sent to the region under the proposals - expected to go for a parliament vote ...
Erdogan Says He Will Resign if Proven Turkey Received Oil From ISIS
2015-12-01 17:48
Erdogan slams Russian claims saying Turkey helps financing the IS group as "slander." "If you say that, you have to prove it and when they will prove it, Tayyip Erdogan will not stay here." ERDOGAN: The Russian leader should not say such a thing. It's a shame. We have never, never ever had such a trade with terrorist organizations. If you say ...
Sweden to give over 8 million euros to Turkey for "refugee deal" - Europe to give three billion euros total
2015-12-01 1:44
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced on Sunday that Sweden would contribute to a joint action plan agreed by nine EU nations designed to limit the number of refugees arriving in Europe via Turkey. The deal came after the German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a surprise summit in Brussels involving the leaders of nine countries including Sweden, France and the UK. The European ...
Swedish woman raped by "refugee" refuses to report it because she feels sorry for him
2015-12-01 0:12
Victim sympathized with rapist's "difficult situation" A Swedish woman who was raped by an Iraqi “refugee” on a train initially refused to report the incident to police because she ‘felt sorry’ for her attacker. The incident occurred on a night train between Umeå and Sundsvall back in October. The Iraqi refugee was traveling back to Sweden because he was unhappy with the ...
ISIS Oil Trade Full Frontal: "Raqqa's Rockefellers," Bilal Erdogan, KRG Crude, And The Israel Connection
2015-11-30 21:56
"Effectively, we have been financially discriminated against for a long time. By early 2014, when we did not receive the budget, we decided we need to start thinking about independent oil sales” --  Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan’s minister for natural resources In June of 2014, the SCF Altai (an oil tanker) arrived at Ashkelon port. Hours later, the first shipment of Kurdish ...
More News »