Oh Erin. Really? A Measured Reply
Erin Burnett of CNN is pretty. But she’s also petty and ignorant. That’s no crime. And she has a lack of intellectual curiosity that would even make George W Bush blush. Again, no crime.
But tonight (11/21/2014) she used these “qualities” in a way that brings even more shame to the news “information industry.”
First, she breathlessly covered the unfolding events regarding the Grand Jury review of the Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of – and possible murder of – 18-year old Michael Brown. Nearly panting, she seemed all out (combined with “neutral” guest, Van Jones) bent on justifying whatever protests may come.
- There are only three blacks on the Grand Jury; and nine whites. This was stated over and over.
- And why is the Grand Jury meeting in Clayton, which is ten (10!!!) miles away with different demographics and income levels?
- At the end of the one of several segments on the shooting and Grand Jury she closed with “Why Clayton?”, as if this would be answered later.
She did not answer it later. Her show returned to, for all practical purposes, promoting protests (but not violent protests) and justifying them. Not only is the Grand Jury mostly white, meeting 10 miles away from Ferguson, but also they are meeting in secret. Oh the horror.
Second, in her next major story she and several other guests went on and on (breathlessly) about what an evil man Bill Cosby is, how his career is over, and more women were coming out with credible claims of being victims of his sexual abuse.
The Ferguson, Wilson and Brown tragic story first. Ferguson is a small community, embedded within a much larger community. Like nearly all municipalities, Ferguson does not have the resources to conduct the full operations required in capital crimes. For this reason, in Missouri (as I believe in nearly every other state) major crimes are prosecuted by District Attorneys. Each county has its own prosecutor, and District Attorney Staff.
A short detour to history in apropos here. The city of Saint Louis is not in the county of Saint Louis. They removed themselves from the county in 1876; this is often referred to the “original sin”, and has led to many problems, and made this issue of multiple small municipalities in a single metro area worse. Saint Louis County has nearly 100 municipalities. 
Saint Louis used to be the county seat. That ended 138 years ago. So that’s where the County Courthouse was (it later became a Federal Courthouse), near the riverfront where the famous arch is now located. That’s where the Dred Scott case was heard. That courthouse is now a national historical site.
The County Seat of Saint Louis County is in Clayton. Thus it is home of the County Courthouse, as well as – ironically – the majority of Washington University in Saint Louis.
Now, since the District Attorney’s offices are in Clayton, and the County Administrative offices are in Clayton, and the Court House is in Clayton … well, that’s where the Grand Jury is seated. The Grand Jury hears and sees evidence in the County Courthouse. Is it 10 miles from Ferguson? Yes, I suppose it is. Most counties are pretty geographically large and diverse.
Members of a Grand Jury are chosen the same way members of a regular trial jury in a jurisdiction are chosen: at random from among registered citizens. Overall, Saint Louis County is 70.3% White; it is 23.7% Black.  So the 9-3 racial split on the Grand Jury is quite a good representation of the County of Saint Louis. If a Black officer had killed a Hispanic or Asian teenager?… well, what would we expect the Grand Jury to look like? About the same. Yes, those percentages are pretty much reversed for Ferguson, just 10 miles away.
Finally, the presentation of evidence and testimony to a Grand Jury are required by law to be done in secret. If we need to ask why, it’s because we’d like to protect jury members from blow-back.
Couple thoughts about Saint Louis County District Attorney Robert McCulloch.
He could have decided to go ahead with prosecution based on his own (and his staff’s) choice. He did not. I think it’s an understandable decision: this is certainly a highly conflicted case and proceeding to full prosecution almost certainly would be (or will be) a very long, painful and expensive process; apparently they did not think they could likely get a conviction.
He could have withheld the case, and the opportunity to indict, from the Grand Jury. He did not. From the very duration of the sitting (since August), we can be sure that the Grand Jury is hearing every bit of culpatory evidence possible. And just to be sure, McCulloch appears to be preparing the release of all testimony and evidence after the Grand Jury renders its decision. That’s very unusual, but in this case it is justified.
I have to say, the system is imperfect. It’s what we have. If Darren Wilson is guilty, I hope they get him.
But Erin Burnett, your ignorance, lack of intellectual curiosity, laziness in finding any answers to your own protest enraging questions, and your urge to inflame emotions, is most detestable. At least you’re pretty. Apparently a bit of research or waiting for answers is too time consuming for you … when there’s racial conflict and racially charged protests to incite.
I won’t go on nearly as long about the revered man with so many credible charges of sexual abuse against him. He should be shamed. Apparently he is not. Juanita Broaderick. Paula Jones. Gennifer Flowers. Monica Lewinsky. Kathleen Willey. Dolly Kyle Browning. Eileen Wellstone. Carolyn Moffet. Elizabeth Ward (Gracen). Still we are forced to listen to him ….
Oh sorry, I’m supposed to be talking about Bill Cosby, not … oh … what’s his name? … Clinton. Right.
Yeah, same thing. Except Clinton has admitted to the Jones, Lewinsky and Flowers encounters.
Suppose we could add that one perp is white – and getting off scott-free – while the other perp is black – and catching all kinds of crap. But that would be race baiting.
Keep it safe out there.
Joe Girard © 2014
 Ferguson and Saint Louis’ Original Sin: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-08-15/how-st-dot-louis-countys-map-explains-fergusons-racial-discord
 Saint Louis County (Missouri) demographics: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/29/29189.html
Note: this essay has been gently edited (the author, 11/22/2014 – JFK assassination day).