The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 January 2008

Chronicle: Bernie Ward Claims He Did Have Book Research Notes


Ex-KGO Libtalker Still Pushing Child Porn Defense

Still hoping to cast enough doubt on the charges against him, fired KGO / San Francisco libtalker Bernie Ward has been pushing the Pete Townshend- inspired "I was only doing research for a book" excuse a lot harder.

Now that Citadel Communications is said to be considering taking Bernie back, a great deal is on the line. With KTVU-2 reporting that his trial date has been pushed back to 9 June, Ward could have enough time to resume his position for nearly six months before facing the child porn indictment in federal court. A preliminary hearing has been set for 24 April.

In addition, media scrutiny of his "research" claims has been increasing, with the San Francisco Chronicle media columnist Ben Fong- Torres receiving an answer from Ward himself, but without the actual "notes" attached:

My question was simple: If Ward was working on a book, why hasn't he offered any evidence? Research notes? Proposals to publishers? An outline? Anyone working on a book idea would have such materials on hand.

I got an answer, from Ward himself. "I did have notes," he wrote in an e-mail. "Notes on what I was doing and conversations I had, etc. I told people I was going to write a book, and one of those people also saw the index cards that I had notes on." He also had a meeting at Perry's on Union Street with a publisher's rep, he says, and that meeting was scheduled by his producer at KGO. Ward says he has informed KGO about his notes but hasn't had access to them "because of the fear of being accused of adding to them or doctoring them in some way."

Ward adds: "I never downloaded anything to my computer, and nothing was found there."

Another good question, Ward says, "is why did they wait almost three years to do anything about this? If what I did was so egregious, why did they wait, leaving me Internet access?"

Or, as Weinberg put it: "If they seriously believed that they had a child predator on their hands, is there any doubt that they would have taken decisive steps to remove him from society immediately? Of course not, because the government undoubtedly realizes that Bernie Ward is not, in fact, a child predator or pornographer, but a serious investigative reporter." (Before getting a talk show, Ward was a political and general assignment reporter at KGO.)

Especially without hard evidence a book was truly in the works, this just doesn't wash. How does "investigating" child porn point to "hypocrisy in America", as Ward contends was the premise behind this work? And why did he send the offending images to at least one other person?

As for using the government's investigative delays as a way to assert they have a weak case, that too is silly: do the feds ever move quickly? This won't help him in court. See here and here for more discussion of these points.

In addition, Ward clearly believes potentially favorable public opinion in San Francisco's morality- averse political climate can save him:

On Jan. 18, according to KGO-TV's investigative unit, "I Team," KGO radio fired Ward, but quoted station general manager Mickey Luckoff saying he hopes to rehire him soon. "We really value Bernie," Luckoff said. Ward hopes so. "We have received almost 1,000 e-mails and notes. Easily 900 are supportive of me returning. ... The community support has been tremendous. I'm hanging in there, hoping that common sense will prevail - but not convinced it will."

From a station as huge as KGO, 1000 emails frankly isn't impressive. Your Radio Equalizer's termination from a smaller outlet once generated exactly that many and it certainly provided no benefit.

But Luckoff and Citadel executives have sent a signal through the media that child pornography can easily be overlooked when making hiring decisions, so there's little doubt they will searching for reasons to justify his return to KGO.

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