Unbelievable—Literally

This edition we are blessed with another guest article from Dan McNeil.

No matter the results, the biggest story of the presidential election is how the media “experts” nosedived themselves and their credibility, straight into a wall.

The Kamikazes had nuthin’ on these meatheads.

From left to right, there’s CNN-san, NBC-san, Fox-san, ABC-san, CBS-san, and MSNBC-san. BANZAI !!

But what’s new?

Thirty-five years ago, egregious media coverage of a bizarre murder trial in Oklahoma awoke me to how misleading and incompetent these media characters could be.

I’d just started an accounting practice in Tulsa and had a little spare time on my hands, so every afternoon, I’d read the Tribune, Tulsa’s afternoon paper.

Actually, I had a lot of spare time on my hands…

The sensational story that day, splashed across the front page, was a morbid tale of of premeditated murder.

One Sunday after the sermon, said the Tribune, Bob, a prominent member of a small rural church walked, gun drawn, into the midst of astonished parishioners, and shot a fellow church member, Jack, to death.  As Jack gasped his last, Bob calmly laid his gun aside, sat down in a pew, and waited for the police.

Naturally, thinks I, this is an open and shut case. Surely tragic, but in Oklahoma, we have the death penalty, so git ‘er done pardner, bring on the executioner, right?  Why the big front page treatment?

Because at the trial, the jury members, all residents of that small town, found Bob innocent.  In their opinion, no crime was committed.

Sayeth what?

After dropping that bombshell, the rest of the story consisted of interviews with the sheriff, dead Jack’s family, and especially dead Jack’s two heart-broken teen-aged sons.

The grizzled county sheriff, a close friend of the victim, found it hard to speak.  In all his years in law enforcement, he’d never seen a verdict like this.

Naturally, said the Tribune, the kids were aggrieved by their father’s death, and saddened by the terrible miscarriage of justice.

Also included were several photos of the suffering teens, and the outraged author of this tale made no effort to conceal his contempt for the citizens of that town. He demanded to know how the fellow citizens of dead Jack could let his killer go free.

I don’t have any pictures of suffering teens. But I did find this nifty pic of Ben Affleck suffering instead. Enjoy.

Much as we all like watching Ben Affleck suffer, you should suspect, as I did, that the writer was leaving part of the story out.

Like half of it.

For one thing, rural Oklahoma folk are a no-nonsense bunch.  Out there, they take cold-blooded premeditated murder almost as seriously as cattle-rustling.

So I was doing some fairly routine payroll work for a client…

…which is fascinating, fascinating stuff

…and decided to take a break to do a little research on the story myself.  Here’s the part of the story our journalist decided we didn’t need to know.

Bob, the shooter, was well-liked and respected in town, a farmer and the single father of a mildly retarded teen-aged son (we’ll call him Alan).  Alan had just earned his drivers license so one day Bob tossed Alan the keys and let him drive alone to town for supplies.

Problem was, the road to town passed over our victim Jack’s land.  Jack’s two teen-aged sons didn’t like Alan, so they ran him off the road, dragged him from the truck, and roughed him up.

Hmmm, a nasty thing to do, and certainly jail-worthy, but not murder-worthy.  Bob should have gone to the sheriff and filed an assault charge against Jack’s kids.  But gosh, I wonder why there’s no mention of this assault in the story.

Relax. I’ll just take the words he left out of his story and put them in a more deserving one about me.

Welllll…the writer left out a lot more. Turns out Bob did complain to the sheriff.  But the sheriff pooh-poohed the complaint as a “boys will be boys” thing, no charge necessary.  Later, he said, he’d have a sit-down with Jack and his boys, problem solved.

Which he never did.

And the next time Alan crossed Jack’s land, the two teens assaulted him again, but more violently.

This time Bob skipped the sheriff and went straight to Jack, pleading for these assaults on his son to stop. Jack laughed and said that poor little Alan needed to toughen up, but agreed to say a word or two to the teens.

Which he never did.

So later that week, once again, Alan’s truck was run into a ditch, but the beating the teens delivered this time was much worse.  Alan’s injuries were multiple and serious, requiring an ambulance and a hospital.

The next day, a bright Sunday morning, Bob took his gun to church.  There, in front of God and everybody, Bob settled his problem with Jack and the teens once and for all.

After the case was presented in court, the fact that the jury said no crime was committed is certainly surprising and discussion-worthy.  But regardless, why did the Tribune’s writer leave out so many mitigating events?  Stupidity or incompetence?

Two good things happened shortly after this story was published.  One, the Tribune went out of business costing this crappy writer his job.  Two—

I got out of the public accounting business

And the world is a better place.

Dan McNeil is owner and operator of Cartridge World, 3656 S. Campbell (New Location!), Springfield, MO 65807.

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