Saturday, September 12, 2009

Will Baltimore prosecute other journalists, too?

Before we answer that question, we first have to know the person making the decisions about prosecutions in Maryland. Who exactly is Patricia Jessamy, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney whose office threatened to prosecute the undercover reporters that exposed ACORN’s pimp-protecting and tax-evasion operation? Chris at HAP does a lot of legwork on Jessamy — and finds a partisan Democrat who has invested both time and money in supporting Barack Obama:

Chris also has links to Jessamy’s personal contribution to Obama’s campaign, as well as her position on a steering committee for his campaign. Jessamy isn’t exactly an uninterested party when it comes to Obama and those organizations that support him. That explains the odd decision by the prosecutor to consider charges against the people who uncovered a conspiracy to evade taxes and shield pimps, rather than the conspirators themselves.

But what else has Jessamy done while in office? Mark Tapscott points out that Jessamy likes to highlight her connection to a local children’s shelter:

Jessamy, a Democrat, was appointed to the State’s Prosecutor position in 1995 and has since been re-elected to the job three times. Among the items listed on Jessamy’s extensive resume of accomplishments is that she is president of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. She also lists her prior membership on the Governor’s Council on Child Abuse and Neglect from 1995 to 1998!

Let’s be clear about what is happening here: O’Keefe and Giles dressed up as a pimp and prostitute and walked into the Baltimore ACORN office seeking “tax advice” for a brothel that would include the use of 13-year-old sex slaves from San Salvador. Two ACORN advisors happily provided all kinds of advice about how to deceive federal and state tax authorities about the true nature of the “business,” and how to insure that the prostitutes “keep their mouths shut.”

In other words, two ACORN employees appear to have voluntarily become accessories to multiple federal, state and local crimes, including child abuse, interstate transportation for purposes of prostitution, tax evasion, and immigration law violations. The two ACORN employees may also have thus provided hard evidence that their employer should be prosecuted as a criminal enterprise under the RICO statutes.

And the Baltimore City State’s Attorney may prosecute the two people responsible for exposing this heinous operation!

On one hand, Jessamy brags about helping children who are abused or neglected. On the other hand, when she discovers evidence that the local ACORN office helps abusers evade detection and protect their child-prostitution rings, she aims her prosecutorial guns at — the people who expose them. Does that help children or hurt them?

Let’s get back to the original question about Jessamy’s roundup of undercover journalists. Jessamy has been in office since 1995. Has she ever pursued this kind of prosecution of undercover journalists in Baltimore before going after the people who went after ACORN? Hot Air reader Carrie W notes at least two times when a local Baltimore TV station used undercover journalists with cameras to record people without their knowledge, and won awards for their efforts. Did Jessamy go after WMAR in 2000?

Baltimore’s Beggars
WMAR-TV, Baltimore
Anchor Stan Stovall went “undercover” as a vagrant to experience what life is like for Baltimore’s beggars. For two days, Stovall wore a disguise–donning makeup and a scraggly beard–and roamed the popular tourist areas of Charm City. “I had to admit I had some reservations about getting made up as a homeless person,” Stovall says. “I could tell you how people would treat me without getting [a disguise.]” But he did it anyway, panhandling during the day and returning to the station for the nightly newscast. “It was one of the ideas that was submitted to look at the issue of panhandling–of whether those people were really homeless and needed the money,” says WMAR News Director Sandra McKeller. “We decided to do it for [the May sweeps] and add a twist by adding our anchor dressed up and actually get the perspective of being a panhandler.” McKeller said the piece tried to examine the plight of homelessness. The burning question Stovall wanted to answer: Should you give panhandlers money? “Some of the research I found in talking with homeless advocates…and even homeless people themselves was you should not give them cash,” he says.

Now, this description doesn’t make clear that WMAR had a hidden camera and mike on Stovall, but that’s certainly the implication. Would a local TV station go to that much trouble and not get the interactions on camera? If that isn’t quite clear enough, though, WMAR’s award-winning effort in 2006 is explicit:


First Place: Tisha Thompson, John Anglim, Susan Kirkwood

(WMAR-TV) “The US Rental Network”

Judges’ Comments: This is just darn good journalism. We didn’t hear enough about the conversation your producer had in the hidden camera part of the story. We loved the MySpace connection & the thoughtfulness of the other people involved in a past scheme. Excellent.

Hidden cameras? Darn good journalism … for WMAR, and apparently not anything in which Jessamy was interested. In 2009, when those hidden cameras go after a group supporting Barack Obama and his policies — well, that’s a different matter altogether. It shows that Jessamy is less interested in enforcing the law and helping children than she is in abusing her power to attack critics who threaten Obama’s power and policies.

How about it, Baltimore? Time for Jessamy to retire, and to find a City State’s Attorney who goes after criminals rather than the people who expose them? And will Maryland journalists take a stand on behalf of Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe?

Source: Hot Air

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