"The twentieth century was not a good one for the United States," Candy judged. At 4:58 a.m., Candy Smythe, the 28-year old NBC executive secretary, finished preparing the room for the 5:00 a.m. meeting. "Nobody could foul up things worse than theyíve been over these last two years," Candy thought solemnly. "Good grief, especially last month, nothing could beat last month," she thought. Still, here she was, prepping NBCís executive conference room at New York Cityís One Rockefeller Center Plaza, for this emergency meeting.
"The last time these top execs got here this early, Mr. Radner was cursing about Peter Arnett and CNN broadcasting from Baghdad during the Gulf War," she thought. This time though, her boss wasnít just angry. Fred Radner, the president of NBC News, was more than angry. He and his associates were bewildered. Even frightened, she could see as they filed into the room quietly. They were tired too, since most had only left a few hours ago about midnight. They all had rooms in the Waldorf Astoria which, conveniently, was a quick three-minute walk from the office.
"Whatever happened at 3:47 this morning (no one had yet told Candy anything), it had to be huge, news-wise," she thought. And it had to be bad. The country was in decline for decades. Over these last years, and especially these last months, people were thinking we were approaching our breaking point. "Did we break?," Candy wondered as she closed the doors, gladly shutting herself out of a crucial NBC meeting.
"The last thing Iíll let my organization do is help this coup succeed," said Mr. Howard Toht, executive director of NBC News. "I agree with the other networks," he argued. "We should refuse to report anything for this coup government."
"Itís not a coup," said Linda Ratcliff, the chief operating officer of NBC News.
"Itís a coup," snapped Toht, "I donít care how it happened, itís still a coup."
"Do you still recognize the word democracy, Howard?," Linda Ratcliff asked sarcastically.
"Gentlemen... and maíam," Radner said glancing at Linda.. "I think ABC and CBSÖ"
"CNN is with them also, and theyíve talked to the Times, the Post and AP " interrupted Toht.
"I think their plan is unworkable. We cannot simply refuse to report their announcements. The only question is, how are we going to report the statements this government issues? If our information is correct, they are going to refuse to answer any questions for their first one hundred days. I canít imagine them following through on that. However..."
"We donít cover these fanatics at all," said Toht, angry. "More people get their news from us than from anyone else. ABC, CBS and CNN are willing to do the same. We all simply black them out. After two days theyíll..."
"I WAS SAYING," Radner regained the floor looking at Toht. "While they will not hold news conferences, they do plan to issue a statement, something theyíre calling a proclamation, each morning at 8:00 a.m."
Someone pushed the door open widely, not like a person entering an important meeting already in progress but like a teenager making his entrance at home after the last day of school. Brokaw.
"Morniní Tom," said Toht.
"Itís not a good morning Howard," said Brokaw leaving the door open and taking a seat.
"I didnít say good morning, I said mourning." Toht said, knowing Brokaw didnít get it.
"Things are bad," said Brokaw looking worse than most viewers would imagine he could look. "Whatís worse, I just spoke to Donaldson, and he thinks things are falling apart over there. Theyíve got board members insisting they publish the story. If ABC broadcasts this garbage to the publicóverbatim, undoubtedly CBS would too."
Brokaw continued, "What does this crackpot think we are, his pawns? Does he think that weíre just going to relay his message to the world without him answering our questions?"
"The answer to those questions is undoubtedly yes," said Radner, "We know little about him. But heís launched a plan trying to take us out of the picture."
"Toht, hereís the problem," Linda started. "Even if ABC and CBS were to go alongÖ"
"And CNN," said Toht.
"and CNN," Linda continued, "and we all refuse to broadcast anything issued by this government, thereís just no way. We canít silence them. There are too many other outlets. To start with, C-SPAN is definitely going to cover this. They have no choice. They report whatever happens each day. They canít just make-up news likeÖ"
Linda caught herself. There was a brief but uneasy pause before she continued.
"The 700 Club, which is obviously not my favorite program," she went on, "but you may recall that it airs in 350 cities. Well they have already sent out promos on their backhaul feed for the first Ďproclamation,í due out in what? In less than three hours from now." Ratcliff continued "if you think Limbaugh wonít cover thisÖ well, obviously he will. There are a ton of alternative outlets for this propaganda . Remember James Dobson has Family News in Focus. Theyíve got 1,100 radio affiliates. Then thereís the Christian-run American Times TV news broadcast on over 100 stations and satellite. There are over two thousand Ch/tian TV and radio stations in this country."
"And thereís the Internet," said Brokaw, thinking he had said something brilliant, but which was actually a relevant comment. "Theyíll download these PROC-LA-MA-TIONS and theyíll be available to everybody. Flat out."
"I think the term is Ďupload,í Tom, and youíre right. Remember that report on media bias we did about six months ago?" asked Linda. "I worked on that. There was a lot more than religious radio and TV stations. In addition to hundreds of independents, thereís a dozen satellite networks for Christian radio and TV, and there are over 200 weekly Christian newspapers..."
"Donít forget the Times," said Brokaw, again proud of himself and again making a relevant point, this one about the Washington Times, which of course would print whatever this ultra-conservative government issued, even if their only reason was revenge against the Post.
"Yeah, the Washington Times," continued Linda, "and as I was saying, over 200 Christian weeklies, and about 1,400 monthly publications. And of course millions of church-goers each week. So weíve got to face it. Not broadcasting these announcements will not hide anything and it would make us look like fools."
"Well maybe thatís what we should look like," said Toht. Brokaw glanced his way. "Maybe we should look like fools for allowing this to happen in the first place. This is not a legitimate government, itís a coup. Itís a coup, Iím telliní you."
"Look Toht," said Ratcliff, "regardless of who thinks what about this mess, at 3:47 this morning, by direct democratic means, a new government was elected. These guys are in there, and theyíve written their own ticket."
Five more minutes passed while NBC lamented its position. There was a brand new government in power. While reporters were out searching for background information, no one yet knew anything about this government other than its retrogressive plan to disseminate news. And also, that it was an extremist, right-wing, religious-fanatic government. Strangely enough, that was its own declaration, more or less, at 4:05 this morning. At that time, a document was issued at the White House to all network and print correspondents and to the wire services.
The entire text of that document reads:
At 3:47 this morning our new government was empowered with sweeping authority to remake the laws of the United States for the restoration of America.
This government has the authority and the determination to set things right. It will therefore do so swiftly and surely using Christian principles.
Over the next one hundred days, your government will issue a lawful and binding Proclamation each day at 8:00 a.m. No press conferences will be held.
"Weíll take our only option," said Radner, "because it is our only option. We are going to report these daily announcements. We will perform that job professionally. After all, the people do have a right to know what their government is saying, regardless of how inane it may be."
The speaker phone at the center of the large, silky-smooth, rosewood table rang. Brokaw hit the button and answered it. "Weíre here. Whatís happening?"
"Hi Tom. Itís Donaldson. We canít pull it off. Thereís not enough time. CBS is going on the air in fifteen minutes with a special bulletin. Of course that forces our hand."
"Thatís a real shame, Sam," said Toht. "A real shame."
"Well who knows Howard? If we had more time," said Donaldson. "Iíve got to go. We tried. Bye."
"See ya," said Toht. The phoneís speaker clicked off.
Radner resumed basically where he left off. "NBC will do all we can to present the news, including the pitfalls of these new ideas, whatever they are. Weíll show the downside, negative impact, expert opinions, you all know what I mean. Before long the people will insist on another election."
"And we better not botch that one," Toht said, "or this country is lost, if it isnít already. And besides, when will the next election be? We donít even know that, do we? We donít know anything. We donít know a lousy thing."
But Candy knew something. She knew that Brokaw would make some boorish remark on his way out about her shape, or her hips, or something similar. With the door open she heard the meeting conclude and rose to meet her boss Mr. Radner, who said nothing to her as he walked into his office. "Good morning, Tom," she said to Brokaw.
He didnít even see her, Candy thought, as he walked down the hallway.
Maybe no one at NBC knew anything after all.v
"When did Blitzer get here?" asked Molly Ivans upon entering the White House Press room. Forced entry might be a better description of her entering. Even though access was by a special-issue press pass, it seems everyone in the Washington press corps was squeezed into that room. The over-sized Westclox above the door read 7:45.
"Wolf was already here when I got here," said an Associated Press photographer, "and that was at six-thirty. It was still dark out."
Wolf Blitzer was always just on time for everything. He was sitting in the third row, left of center, not speaking to anyone. Just sitting there.
"All that weíve got coming is a proclamation. So why would a photographer be here so early, when there isnít even going to be a press conference? You gonna shoot a sheet of paper? You have enough film?" asked Ivans, talking but saying nothing. As it turned out, those would be the last questions she would ask that morning.
ABC, CBS and PBS correspondents were standing up front and speaking with one another. Reuters, the Associate Press of course, the Washington Post and the Times, The New York Times, the Lost Angeles Times (as it was lately fashionable to call it, even among reporters), and the Chicago-Sun Times were all there. Tom Brokaw, having flown the NBC corporate jet from New York to Washington, entered the room at 7:55, looked in the mirror above the entry table, proceeded toward the front, and sat down two seats to the left of Wolf Blitzer.
Ivans knew almost every reporter and photographer there, at least by face, but someone or something was different. She couldnít put her finger on it. What was different, though none of them recognized it, was that all foreign press agents, who normally occupied the back row, were absent. Agence Francaisse, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Englandís Press Association, Russiaís Pravda, they were all missing, though the row was not empty but crammed with people like every other row. As the media would later learn, a White House clerk that morning revoked and collected all White House foreign press passes in the hallway . He instructed the foreign journalists to reapply for new passes on Day Nineteen. The foreign reporters hardly knew what to make of it.
When the foreign reporters asked how they were expected to get the story, the clerk shrugged, smiled politely, and said , "You can always go to your hotel room and watch on TV."
At precisely 8:00 a.m., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, Gen. Kent Summers, entered without introduction. As a veteran of thirty-four years with the United States Army, decorated with eleven medals and badges of honor, and having served with distinction in the Gulf War, Gen. Summers commanded respect, even among this very liberal press corps.
Every man and woman in the room fell silent, and then remained silent, and almost motionless as Gen. Summers took the podium. The general later remembered thinking how strange it felt to have these reporters treating him with respect, as though they were enlisted men and women. They were the last ones he would expect to be quiet. No, he later realized, it probably wasnít respect. It was probably just confusion. Extreme perplexity, it was, that left them with nothing else to do but wait and stare.
"I am here to make an announcement and to deliver to you a proc-la-ma-tion," Gen. Summers said the word haltingly. "As of this morning, I have been reassigned to the position of Secretary of State. This comes as a shock to me as I imagine it may be to you. It is a pleasant shock, however."
Gen. Summers was making an honest effort to disregard for the moment the $46,000 salary increase that came with his new position. The general paused briefly as he appeared to consider his next words.
"Yes, this transfer is a pleasant shock," the general proceeded. "And as long as I am still serving my country, I will perform at my utmost ability. The current Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, is being transferred to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she will be Undersecretary for Economic Development."
"My replacement as the new Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is someone that not all of you will recognize, but he is a long-time acquaintance of mine, and the son of my good friend, General Davis." A thirty-nine year old man, dressed as sharply as Gen. Summers, but with fewer decorations, stepped forward to the right side of the podium. "Colonel Phil Davis served his country well," the general continued, "in the Army for the past seventeen years. He bravely led the 14th tank division in the Gulf War. Colonel Davis is now General Phil Davis, following his promotion earlier this morning. "General Davis," he began a new thought and paused, with a smile and a glance at his young equal, "Iíll have to get used to hearing that. General Davis is a husband and father of two beautiful children. He is as deserving of your respect in his new position, as I hope I have been.
"Beyond this I have nothing further to announce. Certainly, I will be available through the State Department from today forward.
"My final responsibility this morning is to deliver to all of you this proclamation." General Summers fanned a stack of papers in front of his quiet audience. "I have more than enough copies to go around so I will leave them here for each of you to take one. Thank you."
To the amazement of the crowd, the General then turned and walked out the door through which he had entered only two minutes earlier, followed by General Davis. The "one more question" begs, that always trail speakers from this podium, never surfaced. Undoubtedly this was the only White House press gathering ever without a single question.
The AP photographer said to Molly Ivans, "This new regime is not as talkative as the Clinton administration was." She didnít respond. Ivans became part of the human blob that would have stampeded to the front except that there was no room for a stampede. The physical restraint of the crowded room turned the distribution of the handwritten, and then reproduced, Proclamation, into an almost civil matter.
The foreign journalists (miffed as one of them said) were milling about in the White House southeast parking lot which empties out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. These international reporters were caught off guard when the first of the media herd exited the building at 8:05.
If they had been on the ball, the overseas photographers would have captured the scene with their cameras. All the world would have been interested to see the American media silenced. Almost in a daze they said nothing, but walked out to their cars. A Russian journalist approached four Americans before one responded by handing him a copy of the Proclamation. The American reporter remained silent as he passed the paper.
The Russian dialed his cellular phone, and read the following words, verbatim, to his Washington Bureauís secretary. As expected, his words matched, word-for-word, Tom Brokawís special NBC report minutes later. Those words are:
Day One Proclamation
To Fight the Shedding of Innocent Blood
Americaís death row inmates will be executed tomorrow beginning at 7:00 p.m. local time.
Lethal injection and other painless execution techniques are permanently prohibited. Prosecution witnesses, victimsí family members and friends may participate in the execution if so desired. From this day forward, those convicted of any capital crime will be executed.
All abortion clinics are ordered closed and padlocked by the local police or sheriffís department.
Anyone aborting, attempting or conspiring to abort, or advocating the killing of an unborn child from this day forward, upon conviction, will be executed.
Any manufacturer, provider, or advocate of, or anyone procuring, conspiring or attempting to procure, any abortifacient (such as RU 486, the IUD, or any birth control pill which also acts as an abortifacient) from this day forward, upon conviction, will be executed.
Anyone advocating, attempting, conspiring to commit or committing murder, including euthanasia (including by the withholding of food and water) or infanticide (including the killing of handicapped babies), upon conviction, from this day forward, will be executed.
The president of Amnesty International, Mark Armey, was anxiously expecting a great hue and cry over the order to execute all 3,000 death row inmates on the following day. He was expecting throngs in the street, millions he hoped, but he would settle for a few thousand. What he got was not what he expected.
The reporters doing the man-on-the-street interviews were shocked at the overwhelming support for the scheduled executions. They found few who disagreed with the Proclamation of executions for tomorrow. A taxi-cab driver interviewed at 11:1 a.m. in Omaha, Nebraska by an NBC TV-affiliate reporter was typical of countless interviews that day (nine by this one reporter alone).
Reporter: What do you think about the new governmentís order to execute all death row inmates?
Cabby: If these thugs killed someone, it seems right to kill them.
Reporter: Many of these accused men and women have appeals pending...
Cabby: Well, are they accused or are they convicted?
Reporter: Well... convicted, but executing them would end their appeals. Wouldnít that be wrong?
Cabby: One of our drivers, John Bugik, he got killed four years ago for twenty seven bucks. The guy who did it has been appealiní ever since. But Johnny didnít get an appeal. I say fryíem!
Reporter: But shouldnít we at least give them more time to prepare... to die? Tomorrow is so soon.
Cabby: How much time did these murderers give their victims? I mean, on average?
The cabbyís video footage never aired. "This execution of all these convicted murderers is going to be popular," thought the cabbyís reporter after one hourís work. "Great," said the reporter to his cameraman, "weíve got nuts running the government and they strike a public relations bonanza their first day."
Denverís number one radio talk-show host is KOAís Mike Rosen. On Day One at 6:07 a.m., Mountain Time, Rosen heard a special report by Tom Brokaw on Today, NBCís morning news program from the White House parking lot, regarding the first Proclamation of the new government. Exactly three hours later he was on the air and spent the first hour of his program talking not about the new government but about the Proclamation. Since the media knew virtually nothing about this government, they were forced to cover the only news of the day they had to work with: the Day One Proclamation.
In the first hour of his show, Rosen too found most callers in agreement with the swift execution of convicted death row inmates. For the second hour, Rosen had two guests standing by.
"One of the eight people on Coloradoís death row is 29-year-old Jerry LaGordo," said Rosen on the air. "Two years ago Mr. LaGordo entered through the bedroom window of Paula Sutherland, a beautiful sixteen year old girl who was asleep at the time. He stuffed a cloth in her mouth, tied it in place with a cord around her head, and raped her for perhaps an hour, beat her, and finally stabbed her, 17 times in the chest and side. Paula bled to death before her parents returned home.
"Joining me in studio today is Mr. Nick Sutherland and his wife Carol, Paulaís parents. Welcome to both of you and Nick, welcome back."
"Good morning Mike," said Nick Sutherland and "thanks for having us on," said Mrs. Sutherland as she gripped a tightly wound wad of paper in her hand.
"Itís my pleasure," said Rosen, "only I wish it could be under different circumstances. Iíd like to express my condolences to the both of you over your daughterís death."
There was nervous silence from Carol and Nick only nodded, which of course the audience couldnít see.
"Nick, that was a hearty Ďgood morningí just now. Is it a good morning?"
"Mike, I donít know how to express to people how good a morning this is. Of course, we wonít believe it till we see it. But it looks as though this murderer will be justly punished, and swiftly. Thatís a tremendous burden lifted for us."
"Please call me Carol."
"Carol," asked Rosen, "many of us have long called for a real death penalty for murderers, where they actually do get put to death with a degree of certainty and speed..." As he spoke, Carol unwrapped the papers in her hand and began to smooth them on the table. "Now, suddenly," continued the host, "Mr. LaGordoís execution is just a day away. As Paulaís mother, what are your thoughts?"
"Five years ago, Mike," Carol began, "we lost our son Brian when he fell asleep at the wheel. His car went off the road... We thought that tragedy was more than we could bear. But we did of course bear it. We are Christians and we thanked God for the time we had with our son and look forward to seeing him again some day. But while the pain was horrendous, our hurt healed over time. Weíll always miss him, but weíve recovered. With Paula it is so different."
Choking back tears: "Mr. LaGordo has not been punished for killing our baby. He mocks us, not just Nick and me, but all of us, from his prison cell because he had basically gotten away with murder." She had intended to read a quote out of the pamphlet in front of her, but Carol was too upset to do so just now. The booklet she brought to the studio is titled God and the Death Penalty, New Testament Support for Capital Punishment. It is written by Ron Hill who is the Dean of Harvey School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.
"Nick, we spoke of LaGordoís punishment," said Rosen, "last year if I recall, when you were on the program."
"Yes, we did. Or his lack of punishment that is," said Nick. "This guy, after being convicted of killing our girl, now watches TV all day. Thatís his basic punishment. That is, except for when heís playing softball, or basketball, or even volleyball. He can lift weights, use a library, read or even write books. He has cable TV, access to literally thousands of movies on video tape, and even to pornographic magazines."
"That doesnít sound like appropriate punishment for murder to me," Rosen said.
"No it doesnít," continued Nick. "For hurting our daughter the way he did..."
"And us, he hurt us too," Carol added.
"For hurting all of us, he gets three meals a day. In fact, our taxes, the money Carol and I work hard to earn, our money helps to keep him comfortable. The way we see it, he has an all-expense paid vacation. And I donít think that is justice at all."
"Not only is it not justice," added Rosen, "but the government has added insult to your injury by treating him like a party guest instead of a criminal."
"Mike, this guyís girlfriend is angry at us," said Carol, "if you can believe that!, because Nick testified against him. We live at the end of a long cul-de-sac. The night that Paula was killed, as we neared our home, driving up our street, we saw a car driving past us. You could hardly miss it because there was only one door on the driverís side. I mean, it was supposed to have two doors, but the back door was just missing. There was nothing there.
"Well, a car like thatís not hard to find and by the next morning the police located the car and arrested the owner. Anyway, his girlfriend is actually mad at us, so last month she sent us a photograph from the Cañon City Courier. Thatís the local newspaper down there by the prison. The photo was of LaGordo, playing basketball. He looked like he was having a great time. She wrote "Thinking of you" over the photo.
"That is just an example of the utter disrespect that weíre nurturing in people today," said Nick. "There is no remorse at all, no Iím sorry, nothing. In fact, LaGordo kept smiling at us in the court room, not politely, but laughing at us, snickering. Thereís no respect for authority either. He cussed at the judge even. Heís an animal."
"This Proclamation has set aside LaGordoís appeal," said Rosen, "which has had some amount of publicity lately. The evidence against him was overwhelming as I recall."
"Once the police arrested him," Carol started, "it was simple to prove his guilt. He had our daughterís blood on his clothes, and under his nails. He didnít even shower that night, his body was full of her hair."
"DNA tests on hair and trace evidence in our home amounted to overwhelming evidence against him. It was him, heís guilty," said Nick.
"LaGordoís public defenders are appealing on many different grounds, but two points are especially disconcerting," said Rosen. "First, and I donít know if this sounds more like every day life in America, or like it comes out of a B-movie, but the police may have failed to get a proper search warrant, and to make matters worse, they had a skirmish with LaGordo which neighbors claim was unprovoked."
"The skirmish was not a problem for the appeal," said Nick. "Just for the police and their IAD, Internal Affairs Division. But the search warrant is, or was I should say, until today, a huge problem. If an appellate court ruled that warrant was invalid, then more than half the evidence against him would have become inadmissible, even though it was real evidence of a murder that he committed."
"See, right there that was wrong," interrupted Mrs. Sutherland. "Two wrongs donít make a right. You think our lawmakers could figure that out. If the police did something wrong, you take that up with them. If they break a law, you could punish them. But you donít let a murderer go free because someone else made a mistake or committed a crime. Itís insane."
"You raise a good point, Mrs... ah, Carol, that is," Rosen recalled, "criminals should not receive a get-out-of-jail-free card when others break the law. That brings us to the other major appeals issue. As it turns out, the laboratory that did the DNA work was selling actual..."
"Mike, not the lab but one of the technicians," Nick corrected.
"Yes, one of the laboratory technicians," Rosen continued, "was caught selling trace evidence not in your case, but in a different case, to a private investigator for an insurance firm. Defense attorneyís have asked the courts to throw out all the test results, and even the convictions, that have come about since this technician was hired there, four years ago..."
"Right," interrupted Nick. "And incredibly, I mean absolutely incredibly, there is a chance, I mean there was a chance, see, this is a great day, there was a chance that this guy could have walked. But now it looks like its over for him and I must admit we canít wait until its over."
"For more than two hundred years," said Rosen, "this country has opposed cruel and unusual punishment..."
"This has been cruel and unusual punishment against us, the parents," injected Carol. "Arenít we allowed to heal, arenít we allowed to get on with our lives? Every time we are reminded of him, whether itís a news article about his appeal, or even just a story about the prison, or the chef they pay to cook for the prisoners, it hurts, real bad."
"Yes, I agree," said Rosen, "this system has not worked well in many years and a lot of victims have suffered needlessly, none worse than the two of you. But as of this morning, apparently, victims have a right, proclaimed by this new government, which by the way we, and every other news service in the country, are trying to get information on... Later in the program we will be discussing that 3:47 a.m. vote which took the country by complete surprise and grabbed the victory for A.C.M., whatever that is, the A.C.M., we donít yet know. However, their victory has been fully confirmed by all five Election Service Bureaus around the country. But I digress.
"We were talking about victims," Rosen continued, "and their right that was proclaimed, and yes, Iíll use that word since it seems to best describe what has happened, their right to participate in the execution. The exact wording, I have it here from our AP wire service, the exact wording from the Day One Proclamation, as it is called, is as follows:"
Rosen read these words over the air, again, which he had read half-a-dozen times in the previous hour. In less than five hours, in fact, these words had been read over almost every radio, TV, cable and satellite outlet in the country for a total of many thousands of repetitions. Only those people still sleeping since this morning, and those out of media earshot have not heard the:
Day One Proclamation
To Fight the Shedding of Innocent Blood
Americaís death row inmates will be executed tomorrow beginning at 7:00 p.m. local time.
Lethal injection and other painless execution techniques are permanently prohibited. Prosecution witnesses, victimsí family members and friends may participate in the execution if so desired...
"Nick, you and I spoke briefly during the break at the top of the hour about this... Could you please let us know of your plans in this regard," asked Mike with an uncharacteristic ring of suspense in his voice. The response was immediate.
"I am going to kill him," said Nick.
It was obvious that Mike Rosen was waiting for Nick to continue, but it seemed that Mr. Sutherland had said his piece. The silence was very awkward, but it probably only lasted six seconds or so. It was broken by Mrs. Sutherland.
"I am thankful that Nick is going to bring an end to this tragic part of our lives. I could be there myself if I wanted to, but weíve decided Iím going to stay at home. I donít need to see it, as long as I know that heís punished for his action, I will be content."
"OK...," said Rosen. "Nick, lethal injection has been prohibited, along with other painless execution techniques. How do you plan on putting LaGordo to death?"
"As you know Mike, we were here all during the previous hour. But we didnít get to listen to much of your discussion because we were on the phone with the wardenís staff at Cañon City, and I spoke briefly, too, with the Warden himself, that would be Jim Currigan. There are some guidelines for these executions that came from the Colorado State Police. Iím not sure but I think Washington issued these guidelines, yeah they did mention they were from Washington. I guess the government probably sent them out to all fifty State Police organizations. The fax from the State Police got to the Warden, in fact, while I was on the phone with his secretary. So anyway, the whole thing was really strange, but amazingly satisfying."
"What was satisfying?" asked Mike, hoping that Mr. Sutherland would ramble a bit less and answer the question.
"Well, Iím not used to the government caring about what I want. Whether its been a clerk at the motor vehicle department, a school administrator, or any minor bureaucrat. My experience is they have their procedures, which are like their god, and they couldnít care less about your needs, or your problems or whatever. Well it was strange when the Warden asked me that question, sort of like the way you asked it."
"He said, ĎMr. Sutherland, how do you want to execute Jerry LaGordo?í If I hadnít spent the last two years thinking about it, I donít think I would have been able to answer, at least, not right away. But I told him I wanted to kill him the same way he killed Paula."
"What did he say," Rosen asked while clearing his throat at the same time.
"He told me there were some guidelines we had to follow, the ones that came from Washington. My actions had to be designed to kill him and not to inflict slow torture.
"I told him I would do that. I asked him if the part about not torturing him was meant to minimize his pain. He started re-reading the guidelines, I guess to clarify this for the both of us. He said, no, inflicting pain was acceptable, in fact it was intended. However, there was a prohibition against any type of prolonged torture."
"Then there was another part of the guideline that I had never thought about. Itís funny, after all these months, I really have imagined stabbing him, but I never thought about any danger to me from killing him. But the guidelines insist we take precautions so that there is no infection, or disease that can be transmitted for example like if he has AIDS or whatever."
Rosen then asked if Nick knew where the execution would take place.
Nick replied, "For some reason I was imagining heíd be in his cell but they said itíd probably be in the prison dining room. I asked why the dining room? They said they needed a lot of room. I then asked why, but nobody knew... which I thought was strange. Anyway, Iím supposed to be there tomorrow afternoon at four oíclock."
Also in Denver, at former US Congresswoman Pat Schroederís office, an early afternoon meeting was almost over. Schroeder, retired after 24 years in Washington on a huge war chest-turned-treasure chest of three million dollars, was a liberal democrat. A major abortion advocate, she was also strongly opposed to the death penalty, and she supported euthanasia. She was having a bad day.
Schroeder sat behind her desk. Over her head was a poster taken from a political cartoon that ran years ago in the Denver Post. It showed her at her desk and behind her were trophies on the wall, of the backsides of various white men, as though they were stuffed and hung by a taxidermist.
Also in attendance at the meeting were Pat Blumenthal, Gary Jamieson, Gloria Alred, and Wilma Webb. These others were sitting in a semi-circle facing the poster. Starting on the left:
Pat Blumenthal was the youngest person there. She is a spokeswoman for the University of Colorado at Boulder and formerly the executive director of the Colorado Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL).
Gary Jamieson is the director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. He has spent the last fifteen years managing their abortion mills in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Durango, Colorado. He is also the administrator of their string of Colorado-based referral centers. These centers, most of which were in the Front Range, were typically located within a block or two of each major high school. Sometimes for reasons of economy, if two high schools were close to one another, Planned Parenthood would position their clinic between both schools.
Gloria Alred is the famous (or infamous) feminist attorney best known for her advocacy of abortion-on-demand, tax-funded abortion, homosexual rights, and sexual harassment lawsuits. In 1991 Alred reaped extensive media coverage for supporting Anita Hill against then-US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. That loss did nothing to hurt her credibility with the media (or the public for that matter). The last time she received substantial national publicity was in 199, when she blasted Johnny Cochran and the other O.J. "dream team" lawyers for their downplaying of O.J.ís wife-beating during his murder trial.
And there was Wilma Webb. The feminist makeup of this group notwithstanding, Wilma was not here because of her former political career, but because, of course, she is the wife of Denver Mayor Wellington Webb.
Speaking of makeup, there was little in evidence at this meeting, except for Gary Jamieson, who always put a dab of foundation over a small, dark patch of skin just beneath the bridge of his nose. And, of course, Gloriaís pancake mix. But for the others, not a speck this afternoon.
"What media Iíve been able to catch so far today has all been on the executions," said CUís Blumenthal. "I havenít heard the word Ďpro-choiceí mentioned." To her, that was a word.
"This governmentís not dumb, honey," said the lawyer Alred. "Issuing this decree has stunned the nation. They bundled abortion in there with these 3,000 executions as a cover. Itís like camouflage. Everybody has to talk about the executions, because by tomorrow theyíll be over, if they happen, which they better well not or this government might find itself in serious legal trouble. Can you imagine the lawsuits? But if they do happen, itíd all be over in twenty-four hours.
"So," she proceeded, "the mediaís been manipulated to focus almost exclusively on these executions for this first day. If they occur under this edict, with lethal injection and painless execution techniques prohibited, these murderers are likely to be brutal. Tom Brokaw on TV this morning said Americaís returned to the days of medieval torture chambers.
"Imagine the media," Alred said, "trying to report on the status of these 3,000 appeals, which right now doesnít even matter anyway even though many of these people are undoubtedly innocent. Countless reporters are running around like goofballs today trying to find victimís families for each of their hometown murderers. And thereís a whirlwind of confusion over the government. This A.C.M., whatever that means, has managed to tip the media off balance, at least right now. Itís a zoo out there."
"I think we should set our plans for two days out," said Wilma Webb. "Thereís little we can do until this death penalty stuff is either canceled, or it goes down. Either way, we can get our media coverage once itís over..."
"No," said Pat Schroeder. "We wonít wait a day. We wonít wait a half day, not even another hour. Weíre not going to start making excuses and let other people manipulate us. Weíll start manipulating them, whoever they are. And I mean right now."
"Well weíve been talking for an hour," said Pat Blumenthal, "and I havenít heard any specific action plan or strategy emerge here. Weíve come up with nothing so far. And Iím still in shock over their threat for what they call advocating abortion, it says Ďwill be executedí you know."
"Thatís a joke," said Alred. "You canít turn a country around on a dime. Yesterday, there were probably over ,000 abortions performed. Today, the same number were scheduled. You can be sure most of these women will have their abortions. I just donít want any of them waiting more than an extra day or so, because of the added risk to the health of the mother."
"Thatís exactly what weíll use in the media," said Schroeder. "And thatís our strategy. It has kept us on track with our approach all along, in fact, since 1967. Weíll explain that there are women who are going to die, and Iím sure thatís true. Innocent women will die if these health centers do not open up immediately. We need an action plan. OK, Iím going to go to KCNC TV for starters." KCNC is Denverís ABC affiliate which has, even more than the other media outlets in Colorado, always bent over backwards to please Schroeder. Their news director, William Goff, probably never refused the former Congresswoman anything since he took over KCNCís news.
"Iíll have KOA there doing a simulcast, and weíll call the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post."
"And you donít think they are going to bring charges against you for advocating abortion?" asked Blumenthal.
"Honnneey," said Alred, "there is no way. First of all, can you imagine them even trying to arrest Pat Schroeder? She has more influence and say-so in this country than, well, than even I realize. And do you know what? Letís say they tried to charge her with advocating abortion. We would win that one so fast it would make your head spin. You know as well as I do, how many times we have said that we donít advocate abortion, but just a womanís right to safe health procedures and to make her own choices..."
"They put that threat in there today to scare people into silence," said Schroeder interrupting Alredís speech, "which it actually may have done somewhat. But wait until we take the lead. Our friends will all be there behind us, and the women of America will rally. And we will win.
"So, Iím going to put this together for this evening at 6 p.m. I could do it alone, but Iím thinking it would make sense to have a partner. Gary, how about you?"
Jamieson was slightly jolted by this. He was listening, for the most part. But he was also thinking about Terry Sullivan. Heís the leader of the Denver Pro-Life Action Network, or Denver PLAN. Sullivan has been picketing on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthoodís largest Colorado facility, 20th and Vine in Denver, for more than ten years. Heís there five days a week. Whether itís 10 degrees in August, or five below zero in January, Sullivan is out there with his Vine Street Irregulars, he calls them. A very motley band of anti-abortionists. "Right now theyíre probably having a barbecue on our front lawn," he thought. He was right, by the way.
"Wha? When was that, Pat?" asked Jamieson.
"Tonight, six oíclock, downtown at the KCNC studio."
"Well Iíd love to, but I canít do anything without orders from National," said Jamieson. Actually Planned Parenthood of America would have wanted anyone in their organization to challenge this "insane proclamation." Jamieson knew that but was hesitant about doing anything, at least anything publicly right now. He was still a bit shook up, actually.
At 7:15 that morning the Denver County Sheriff Mark Lanier, had met him at his 20th and Vine Street facility. There were about forty picketers outside instead of the normal weekday seven or eight. Inside, the staff was in shock over the morning news. Still, they were going through motions as though it would be a normal day. Not really knowing what they would do, and waiting for word from their corporate hierarchy, they slowly began processing the four customers that had already arrived: two black teenagers, one in high school and the other a dropout; a 31-year-old lawyer from a downtown firm which does business out of the exclusive high rise at Seventeenth and Welton; and a 20-year-old psychology major from Metropolitan State College. There were ten abortions scheduled for that day, which was a heavier workload than usual since the picket line had settled in to a five day routine. But the remaining six were late in arriving. The abortionist, Edward Patrick OíLoughlin, was expected to show up at about eight-thirty, after the girls were counseled, prepared and ready to go.
When Sheriff Lanier entered the building, he met privately with Jamieson for a couple of minutes. Then the two of them called the staff together which consisted of the clinic director, Linda Snow, their office manager Patty Krangle, the sales and medical girls, and their security guard, former Denver Police officer Mike Newell.
Jamieson told them all that Sheriff Lanier had confirmed the news reports and has official orders to close the clinic. There were gasps, and Patty Krangle even started to cry though the Sheriff thought it was not a womanís sad cry, but an angry cry. Jamieson asked Linda Snow to call OíLoughlin and tell him not to come in.
They hadnít tried to call the abortionist that morning and had no way of knowing that, within twenty minutes of hearing the 6 a.m. newscast, OíLoughlin and his wife Cathy got in their Toyota Forerunner and left town. At this moment they were just north of Loveland on I-25, heading for her brotherís cabin in Steamboat Springs, "just to think" he had told his wife. (Actually, he was taking the long way around by accident. While passing the I-70 West exit at the mousetrap, as Denverites refer to the highway interchange there, he realized he had missed his turn-off. And rather than call his mistake to his wifeís attention by making a U-turn at the 58th Street exit, he decided to take this northerly route, which would add 55 minutes to the trip.)
Lanier told the staff to please help the four patients leave as quickly as possible. The women dressed and left the building to shouts of victory by the Vine Street Irregulars outside. One of the Irregulars, Ken Scott, was marching back and forth on top of the stone wall that surrounded the building, singing at the top of his lungs:
Our God reigns,
our God reigns,
our God ree-ee-ee-eigns,
our God reigns...
Half the pro-lifers thought he was either out of line or at least that he looked silly, but the other half were encouraged by him and would have joined him if they had a better sense of balance.
Once the staff members exited the building, Jamieson locked the door while the Sheriff stood by. Terry Sullivan called out to the Sheriff, asking him if he wasnít going to padlock it himself, because Planned Parenthood couldnít be trusted to keep it closed. Lanier went over to speak with Sullivan, who was a veteran of the civil rights movement. Terry had actually been one of the 300 Freedom Riders jailed for four months in |Selma, Alabama back in 1963.
Jamieson overheard Lanier tell Sullivan that the construction of the doors made it difficult to padlock them, so he was going to leave an officer guarding the building until a county engineer could come out to secure the building. Sullivan asked whether or not the Sheriff would mind if the pro-lifers kept someone there also, guarding "just in case."
"You guys are always here anyway," Lanier told him and walked away.
The Sheriff drove out of the parking lot, receiving applause from the pro-lifers. He turned right on Vine Street and headed south eleven blocks to Ninth Street, turned left and proceeded |three blocks to Colorado Boulevard. He stopped in the parking lot of the |Womenís Health Center of Colorado, which was the next abortion mill on his rounds that morning.
After leaving the 20th and Vine location, Jamieson drove slightly out of his way going to Planned Parenthoodís business office on |Eight Street in order to pass the |Womenís Health Center. He saw the Sheriffís car there and the clinic staff in the parking lot. He drove on.
"Iíll go with you, Pat," said Gloria, always pushing to get in front of TV cameras. "Thisíll make the Anita Hill flap look like a teapot tempest," she said smiling.
Schroeder buzzed her secretary, "Sue honey, get Bill at KCNC on the line."
In the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Phil Davis called his newly appointed aide, Colonel Jack Sasso, into his office to give him his first assignment. It was 4:30 p.m. and he was drinking his sixth cup of coffee.
"These are unusual times. And I have an unusual assignment for you. Iíd like you to get over to Langley Air Force Base right away and meet with the boys who fly the President around in Air Force One. You are to inform them that they will be very busy during the next three months. And you should tell them, and they wonít like this but theyíll accept it of course, tell them that they will not have a presidential passenger on board.
"They will, however, be flying at a momentís notice on missions of extreme importance to America. They will, of course, fly with the same level of security, the same precautions, and with the same authority as though a president were on board. Iíd like you to leave immediately and call me here or at home if there are any questions."
"Yes sir, General."
At the same time Davisí predecessor was beginning his work at the State Department. The Secretary called a meeting of all undersecretaries and department heads. Normally, by 4:30 in the afternoon, most of these people were "unavailable" as their secretaries would say. But today, they were very available, meeting their new boss.
Everyone was in town too, which was surprising, except for the Undersecretary for East Asian Affairs, who was in Bangkok on a GATT matter. (Thatís Global Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.) Why a State Department official would fly to Bangkok for a Commerce Department concern was a question the old Secretary would not have asked but the new Secretary would want answered.
In fact, there were a lot of answers wanted by "The General" (as everyone at the department immediately began calling him. They werenít known for originality at State).
For starters Gen. Kent Summers asked for "a full and complete" (thatís the way he talked) "accounting of all properties owned, rented or leased by the State Department, at home and abroad." He also asked for an accounting of all resources owned or leased, including computer equipment, communications equipment, office equipment, paper shredders, audio-visual equipment, furniture, everything. "A full accounting down to each paper cutter," he said.
"I want that by one week from tomorrow. Is there anyone who cannot accomplish that task?" As he scanned the eyes of each of the 23 people around the massive conference table he saw that they didnít like this at all, but so far no one was willing to question him. If they didnít ask why he wanted this information, he was not about to bring up the subject. It appeared his military training would suit him well for his task at State.
"The following week, I will have another..."
"Yes, sir, please speak up."
A man in his late 20s, midway down the table on The Generalís left, had halfway raised his hand.
"General, we have accountants who keep track of that kind of information." His voice was whiny and high pitched, not naturally high but intentionally, as though he were trying to sound less than masculine. What was worse, The General thought, was that he was using that valley girl intonation. In other words, at the end of every phrase, his tone would go up. As in:
General, we have accountants who keep track of that kind of information.
Sissy-talk from a man drove Summers nuts. The last decade or two of sensitivity training was completely lost on this military man, thankfully.
"If your accountants," The General was happy to interrupt, "are anything like ours in the Pentagon, then about ten percent of what they think you have you donít and a quarter of what they think you no longer have, you do."
"Thatís a good point sir. But I would like to ask what this information is needed for. This is an extremely unusual request.
The General thought this man would hit the ceiling, that is if his head followed his words. Actually his head did rise and fall, in fact, his whole body would rise and sink in his chair with the pitch of his words.
"What is your reason for being here, son?" The General asked him, while hoping the up-speak would stop.
"I donít understand," came the reply.
"Your reason for being here. Why are you employed here, what is it that you do?" The General rattled off the clarification to the man. Seeing that the up and down motion of his head had temporarily halted, The General assumed the guy really had no idea what he was being asked.
"Your position man, your title, what do you do here?"
"Oh, Iím the diversity officer." He had unconsciously kept his tone from rising on the word "officer," trying to protect the status of his office and his own view of his importance. Funny how that works.
It looked like The General couldnít hear him at first, but then he said, "Oh, Iím sorry, did you say diversity officer. Oh," letting out a muted laugh, "I thought you said perversity officer." No one at the table laughed, though one wanted to.
"OK, diversity officer, I understand, I know what you do. Thank you. Will you be able to accomplish this task for your little group."
"Sir I have 87 people reporting to me."
"Poor souls," The General mumbled, it was verbal but very quiet, so no one would hear him. The woman to his right, though, the youngest in the room, was able to make out exactly what he said. The upper right corner of her mouth rose just a millimeter in response.
"Eighty-seven. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff I was effectively responsible for 1.1 million servicemen and women. And I always met my deadlines for my superiors. So with your 87, Iím sure you will have your job completed on time as well. As for why I need this information, Iím not sure thatís appropriate for you to ask. But Iíll answer it anyway. Iím supposed to run this ship, and right now, they tell me this Department is more like a barge than a ship. I want to know everything about who we are, where we are, and what resources we have. Is that acceptable to you, son?"
"Ye, a, y-yes sir."
"Immediately following that, I will have another one-week project for all of you. You will report to me a summary of every project your department is working on; every contract employee under your responsibility, every consultant. I will also need a list of every contract, whether it is a supply contract, a service contract, a building contract. Everything.
"Accomplishing these two projects on time will take precedence over everything, and I do mean everything else you are doing. Is that understood?"
Nods from around the room and a handful of "yessirs" accompanied the papers being distributed throughout the room, listing The Generalís specific requirements.
"You are excused," said The General.
Another event of interest occurred in Washington that day. It was at the Supreme Court Building. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia thought it would be appropriate to let the country know what was happening but was not about to stage a media event. Also, he had been given no instructions in this respect. So what he did was call an acquaintance, someone he had come to know ever since a Media and the Courts conference he spoke at three years ago. It was the president of Court TV, Alex Steen.
He had offered Alex an exclusive first broadcast of a newsworthy event if he agreed to provide all the networks and other news services with the footage immediately following the initial broadcast. It was agreed and at 5:45 p.m. an independent TV crew hired by Court TV was inside the actual courtroom used by the Supreme Court to hear cases. Their lights were up and they were ready to roll.
From the doorway to the Hall of Chambers, as the clerks called it, emerged the Justice himself, followed by another man he was speaking with. Behind them came another handful of seven or eight people.
After checking with the crew, Scalia began. "We are here at this brief ceremony to commend to the American people their newest judge, Federal Judge Jay Adams. I have never until today met Jay Adams face-to-face. However, I know him from his work. I read two briefs he filed with this court a few years back in connection with his work for the Rutherford Institute. Actually, come to think of it, I shouldnít say I read those briefs."
Adams, who had been staring straight ahead, not really focusing on anything, looked up, a bit taken by the last comment. The camera caught his glance.
"It would be wrong to say I read those briefs," the Justice continued. "I studied them. I pored over them because they were unlike any I had read before. They were authoritative. Brilliant. So much so that I called the author and we had a fascinating conversation. My impression was that I was speaking to one of our founding fathers... perhaps Alexander Hamilton or Patrick Henry. Men like Hamilton and Henry were public guardians of Americaís early criminal justice system, which made America in the late 1700s and early 1800s perhaps the safest society the world had ever known.
"In the months since, when Iíve tried to recall Mr. Adams name, Iíve remembered it by thinking of the first man to ever hold the position Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, John Jay. And then I thought of our first Vice President, John Adams, and hence," he said, smiling and looking at the new judge, "I would always remember the name of Jay Adams."
"I am looking forward to learning much from this manís service to our country. I think his name is one that we shall all long remember.
"Jay Adams, do you promise to use your authority as judge to uphold justice?"
"Do you promise to do all in your power to determine the truth, convict the guilty, and acquit the innocent?"
"Do you promise to hate injustice in your courtroom and in the world around you?"
"And do you promise to look to Almighty God for the wisdom and courage you will need as judge?"
"Congratulations, Judge Adams, and may God bless you."
After the lights went out, the man in charge of the TV crew had one question for the Chief Justice. "That oath¾
Iíve never heard one like that before." He stated, although implying a question.
"That was not an oath, and it wasnít a vow," said the Justice. "It was a promise. Judge Adams asked if we could put his promise to the American people in his own words. I thought it a grand idea."
Jim Joy, the executive director of the Colorado ACLU (not to be confused with John Jay), happened to catch the whole thing live on Court TV. He was incensed at the reference to God. He called the legal reporter of the Rocky Mountain News to offer him a comment. "Heís here," said another reporter with whom Joy also had an acquaintance, "but heís on the phone. HereÖ, IímÖ, wait a minuteÖ OKÖ, there, I just handed him a note. Yeah, heís nodding. Heíll call you back. Thanks. Bye."
After playing live on Court TV, the footage was downlinked by every news network that night for their affiliates around the country. It made the late news almost everywhere.
Jim Joy waited up until half past midnight. No call.
At 5:35 p.m. Mountain Time, Pat Schroeder and Gloria Alred were in the Green Room at the KCNC studios on Lincoln Avenue in Denver. Gloria had dismissed a young man who was going to help them with their make-up and hair. Pat was sitting on the low couch, eyes closed during almost the entire twenty-five minutes they would spend in that room. Gloria was working on her face in front of the lit mirror.
"Face it Pat," said Alred, "most people donít care about euthanasia. You donít have to tell me itís an important issue. I know that, but I also know most people donít care, itís low priority. Now pro-choice rights, weíve got millions of people involved, speaking out, voting, working for candidates. Millions of women are behind us. Just look at how many have had abortions themselves. Itís about thirty million. Theyíre with us."
"I was just pointing out," responded Schroeder, "that we need every part of our coalition. Our strength is in numbers, and the more people we motivate to rise up against this white male tyranny, the sooner weíll wake up from this nightmare. I knew I shouldnít have resigned. You canít leave a government in the hands of the weaker sex, Iíll tell you that."
Just then an assistant producer knocked on the door, poked her head in and asked the ladies to follow her to the studio. KCNC, as a network affiliate, was going to accomplish two things with their guests. They would do a local, live interview on their six oíclock news that would air in Colorado and four surrounding states. Then via satellite link-up, they would do an interview, taped or live the network still hadnít decided, for NightLine.
The ladies and the news crew, the producers and anchors, told each other that the interview went well. Pat Schroeder had said that of the women scheduled for abortions that day, there were undoubtedly a number of them that were in desperate need of an abortion, and that perhaps some of them would die in a matter of days. The interview ended with a promotion for the NightLine piece coming up in a few hours, which by that time it had been decided, would be live.
Less than twenty minutes after the broadcast, a phone call interrupted Judge Adams from a project that he and a handful of other men were working on in his living room. The caller informed him that a car would pick him up within the hour and that he would be flown to Denver. Judge Adamsí wife, Brenda, heard him object. "But there are still twenty-seven casesÖ" Interrupted, the Judge paused. Then his wife heard him say, "Oh noÖ Yes, I understand. Yes. Pray for me."
Actually the KCNC staff was nervous. They were one of the few news outlets in the entire country that broached the subject of abortion with guests that in any way could be considered advocates. The wording of the proclamation left virtually no wiggle room. There seemed to be no loopholes to do what Pat Schroeder and Gloria Alred wanted to do. However, the women assured Bill Goff that they knew exactly what they were doing and had every confidence. On his insistence, they assured him that they would not step over the line-in-the-sand drawn by the Proclamation.
The news anchors, for their part and contrary to their normal routine, said nothing that night that could even remotely be interpreted as abortion advocacy. Whatís more, there was not even a trace of criticism in their words or demeanor for the action of the government. More than a few viewers thought the media had a conversion to neutrality overnight.
For her part, Pat Schroeder did not tell nearly the whole truth on the air. She failed to mention that every hospital and emergency room in the country was in full service. She also failed to mention that in a true medical emergency, such as an ectopic pregnancy (where the fertilized egg becomes lodged in the fallopian tube and unless removed would kill the mother and the baby), as always doctors and emergency personnel were ready to do anything necessary to save the life of the mother, and the baby too if possible. At the industryís current level of progress, when saving the life of a pregnant mother, the baby often dies. But, as any good physician will say, the goal is to save both patients, if possible.
The real action occurred during their live interview on NightLine. Twelve minutes into the program, the network went to an unscheduled commercial break. Upon return, Ted Koppel informed the audience of something occurring in Denver at that very moment.
"Pat Schroeder and Gloria Alred have asked us to keep the cameras rolling which weíve promised them we will do. Four minutes ago the Denver County Sheriff, his name is," looking down at his notes, "Mark Lanier, arrived at our Denver affiliate KCNC with arrest warrants for Pat Schroeder and Gloria Alred. So we are going back to Denver now."
"Yes, Ted, we are still here, and the Gestapo isnít in the studio yet," she said in a smarmy tone and with a false smile on her face. "Can you believe it has come to this?"
Gloria spoke up. "Ted, the country has not seen a legal fight like we are going to put up. I pity the person who tries to stand in our way. If we are arrested, some people are going to lose their careers over this."
"Ladies, is the Sheriff there?" asked Koppel.
"We are being told," said Schroeder, "that Security is bringing him in. I think they took him the long way." Both ladies laughed, although it sounded to most viewers like a nervous laugh.
What happened next made broadcast news history. The women refused to leave the set, so the Sheriff came onto the set itself and actually became a part of the NightLine program. The floor director lowered an overhead boom mike (though it was hardly ever used, he was thrilled at that moment that it had been sitting up there, hooked up and ready to go, all these years). The audience heard and saw everything.
Ted Koppel sat silent.
"Pat Schroeder, and Gloria Alred, I have warrants for your arrest."
"On what charge?" Alred demanded.
"The charge is Conspiracy to Murder," came the reply.
At that time Alred found the courage to joke to Koppel about continuing the interview tomorrow night when they are out on bail.
The Sheriff informed her:
"Mrs. Alred, you may want to know that this warrant states that there will be no bail permitted, and that your trial, in federal court begins tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.. You are both hereby under arrest."
Turning to the cameraman, who was the wrong person to say this to (but the Sheriff was doing his best) Lanier said:
"I also have a subpoena for video tapes of this eveningís interviews. I need them tonight."
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