The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 April 2008

Indicted KGO Libtalker Bernie Ward Pushing 'First Amendment' Legal Strategy


Is Bernie Ward Crazy, Or Merely Desperate?

Since we last checked in on the sad saga of indicted libtalker Bernie Ward, the former KGO personality has lost key Internet supporters and has seen the station back away from talk of rehiring him, instead using substitute hosts probably willing to kill in order to get his evening time slot.

Meanwhile, he's still facing years behind bars if convicted on federal charges of possessing and distributing child pornography. Your Radio Equalizer first broke this story here back in December.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is his stubborn inability to take responsibility for his actions even in the face of overwhelming evidence to back up the allegations. Bernie's still pushing the Pete Townshend- inspired "I was writing a book" defense, according to KPIX TV-5 in San Francisco:

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) ― Former radio talk show host Bernie Ward has asked a federal trial judge in San Francisco to allow him to present a First Amendment defense to charges of receiving and distributing child pornography on his computer.

Ward filed a motion earlier this month asking U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to allow him to argue he had "a legitimate, journalistic purpose" for his actions because he was doing research for a book.


Ward, the author of several previous books and articles, says in the court filing that he came into possession of the illegal photographs while doing research for a new book. Defense attorney Doron Weinberg has previously said the book was about hypocrisy.

Ward contends he should be allowed to argue the research was protected by the constitutional First Amendment right to free speech.

Weinberg wrote, "If given the chance at trial, Mr. Ward will offer proof that he received and distributed the contraband exclusively for the purpose of furthering his research, and that he intended to destroy the material upon completion of his journalistic enterprise."

Prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department's child exploitation and obscenity section opposed the motion in a response filed on Thursday.

The prosecutors wrote, "The law provides no First Amendment-based license to journalists to violate laws."

The federal lawyers argued that allowing Ward to present a free-speech defense "would invite every defendant charged with child pornography crimes to suddenly become a legitimate researcher educating the masses via their Web blog."

At least there's no sign the defense has continued to blame the Bush Administration for this obvious partisan set- up!

Ward's current mess is one of his own making: he's given up opportunities to accept a reduced prison term that could have put this behind him far more painlessly.

Pushing forward with this unlikely strategy shows he's either incredibly stubborn or desperate for any sort of remotely plausible defense. Does he really believe our legal system will allow the First Amendment to reward bad behavior, including the victimization of children?

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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