Letters to the Editor
CU in the funny pages: Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Made for Each Other," in the October 12 issue:
Congrats on a job well done exposing CU's heir apparent to the Churchill/Barnett throne. Michael Tracey is a jackass and, being such, he fits in brilliantly at the institution that prides itself on making sure the jackass never becomes an endangered species. Thanks for a great piece.
Hold the lettuce: Alan Prendergast did it again and again by writing his article on professor Tracey in the fair, unbiased manner that's characteristic of him.
Alan should be teaching journalism at CU and Tracey should be flipping hamburgers at McDonald's.
The evil that men do: Alan Prendergast's article on Michael Tracey's continued interest and unwaivering belief in the Ramseys' innocence misses the main point. As a student of popular culture and holder of a journalism degree (and having taught college journalism), I think Tracey's point is that every crime, just like every story, has at least two sides, and inevitably many nuances within them. The criminal-justice system and the media organizations' trend toward speedy resolution has created a beast that resembles a modern-day stoning without any due process.
It is not just possible but probable that an evil person, an intruder, came into the Ramsey home and killed an innocent child. It is not just possible but probable that Patsy Ramsey was a grieving mother who was then "raped" and persecuted by the people -- the media, the police and her friends.
As a grieving mother, I know that you can't act "normal" when something evil has taken your child. As a journalist, I know that there are at least two sides to this story. As a mother, I am going to try to understand Patsy Ramsey's grief. As a human being, I admire Michael Tracey's willingness to do the same.
Name withheld on request
Someone call out the cops: A longtime reader, I felt compelled to write you for the first time after reading Alan Prendergast's "Made for Each Other." The Boulder Police Department can't look any worse then it already does from befuddling this case from day one. I'm no amateur sleuth, but it seems like Mr. Tracey knows more about the case then anyone -- and yet he has not been labeled a suspect. Boulder spent thousands to fly a kook back to the States while the killer remains in our back yard. Tracey seems more obsessed with this case than John Mark Karr, but the police consider him an informant.
If Boulder wants to get the egg off its face, I say they arrest the real fraud. It is repugnant that they let Tracey know about the DNA before the lawyers. That's like handing a known bank robber a gun in front of a bank.
The reel story: I am reluctant to afford Alan Prendergast's attack on Michael Tracey recognition it does not deserve, but it includes four major factual inaccuracies which cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged.
The first is that when making our last documentary together, Michael Tracey identified the suspect most immediately in need of elimination. He did not. The suspect was identified by a respected investigative journalist from Britain while working closely with experienced homicide detectives intimately involved in the Ramsey case. I had no difficulty in confirming his findings. As a result of the documentary, this suspect was quite properly eliminated from the investigation.
The second is that the role Michael Tracey played in the documentary was not the role described by Alan Prendergast. Tracey made possible a documentary which -- importantly -- revealed the strength of leads which had never been followed up. It referred to "boxes" of such leads and quoted detectives calling for "teams of detectives" to be deployed to follow them up. It suggested that the reason this was not happening was that the people of Boulder had become exhausted with the case -- which deprived the elected district attorney of the public support and resources needed to mount such an investigation. The purpose of the documentary was clear to viewers, although Alan Prendergast chose not to report this. I also personally made it clear to him. He chose not to quote me on this.
The third major inaccuracy is that it is utterly untrue that Michael Tracey pursued John Karr on his own. From the outset, he sought and followed the advice of experienced homicide detectives. This was long before the district attorney's office launched its formal investigation.
The fourth major inaccuracy is that while it is true John Karr changed background details (in part, at least it would seem, to conceal his identity), his confession as to how he actually killed JonBenét remained remarkably consistent from 1997 (long before his contact with Michael Tracey) through to 2006 and alarmed everyone who heard him talk about it. Although in part unexpected, it was also consistent with the autopsy evidence.
To assert, as Prendergast does, that someone who made a credible confession to the horrific sexual torture and murder of a six-year-old should not be investigated is to reveal, as Michael Tracey has argued, that he inhabits a different moral universe than the rest of us.
It is a universe inhabited by journalists and others who have profited from peddling stark untruths about the parents' guilt. Of course, these individuals oppose any proper investigation of the case. It could rob them of their ability to profit from it.
Such behaviour may sell newspapers and attract viewers, but it represents the denigration of everything that journalism should stand for.
Mills Productions Ltd.
Alan Prendergast responds: In claiming "major factual inaccuracies" that don't exist, Mr. Mills is displaying the flair for distortion and bombast found in his Ramsey documentaries. Here are some facts. I reported that it was the decision of the 2004 documentary's producers -- Tracey and Mills -- to present John Steven Gigax as the "prime suspect" in the Ramsey murder. Mills seeks to minimize Tracey's role, but he admitted to me that Tracey had substantial editorial responsibility in their collaborations, including developing sources and story lines, and Gigax's principal accuser says Tracey helped persuade him to appear in the film. Whatever findings Mills confirmed with a journalist in Britain, his research evidently involved minimal legwork in Boulder, or he would have discovered that Gigax left town months before the murder and was in Indiana the night JonBenét was killed.
Mills has expressed embarrassment for making Gigax so easily identifiable, but neither he nor Tracey has apologized to the innocent man they accused so confidently, nor have they expressed any regret over engaging in wildly speculative character assassination in their cheeseball film. Instead, Mills lamely suggests it was "proper" to portray Gigax as a deadly ninja-predator so that he could be eliminated as a murder suspect! As the article notes, there's no evidence anyone connected with the official investigation (other than Lou Smit) ever considered Gigax a serious suspect, much less a prime suspect.
Mills believes the last scene of "The Prime Suspect" clarifies the purpose of the documentary. But that scene doesn't excuse earlier scenes in the program, which misrepresent four private investigators who'd been working for the Ramsey attorneys for years (two still are) as a new team of detectives "appointed" by the Boulder District Attorney.
My article doesn't state that Tracey chased Karr on his own. I reported that Tracey notified investigators working for the Ramseys at the start of the online relationship and shared e-mails from Karr with Lou Smit, Ollie Gray and Tom Bennett. But let's not forget who was actually communicating with Karr and helping him get his confession in shape for public consumption. That would be Michael Tracey.
I didn't assert that credible suspects shouldn't be investigated. Karr wasn't a credible suspect. There was never a shred of evidence against him other than his badly overcooked confession, which has changed significantly since 2001 and even since last spring; the article draws on the e-mails and phone calls with Tracey to show how Karr altered key details, often in response to information Tracey provided. His confession remains both inconsistent and incredible. Within days of his arrest, journalists were able to establish to a high degree of probability that he wasn't anywhere near Boulder the night of the murder, something the Boulder DA failed to pin down before spending $35,000 to haul him back to Colorado.
Finally, I am unaware of anyone who's profited from exploiting the Ramsey murder over a longer period of time, with a greater disregard for the principles of accuracy and fairness, than the production team of Mills and Tracey. They truly do inhabit a different moral universe from real journalists. It's the difference between journalism and propaganda.
Breast wishes: I wanted to respond to Michael Roberts's scathing review of Janet Jackson's new album, 20 Y.O., in the October 5 Playlist. It is clear that Mr. Roberts is the one who is "missing the point" while still caught up in a long-over-with Super Bowl "scandal." (Which actually made the Super Bowl worth watching. Besides the commercials and seeing some of the more fit football players in molding attire, seeing Janet's breast bare for a mere second made even me, of all people, question my sexuality.)
Allow me a moment to enlighten Roberts on a few things. Janet's new album is a reflection of all her past work. While the overwhelming number of interludes on this release seem to merely take up space, in my opinion the songs hold up to everything you've come to expect from a Janet record, which are:
1) Something with a ring of truth
2) A little nasty
3) Something a bit soft
4) A little sensual
5) And a hint of a continuous message.
The message this time is it's time to have fun. Hence the heavy beats, the surprising collaborations and hints of remembrance of where she came from. For example, on the track "Daybreak," if you listen to the beginning, you just might be taken back to that day when you first heard "Escapade" -- a commercial single taken from her Rhythm Nation release. And it doesn't stop there.
But nothing is more fun than throwing down beats you can dance to -- and I mean truly dance to. It's what Janet has always done, and it's what makes Janet, well, Janet. And as for the closing statement of Robert's review, that "that's no way to stay abreast of the competition" -- just what competition is he referring to? This is Janet we're talking about, a music icon and a force to be reckoned with. It's clear Roberts's iPod must have had some sort of "malfunction."
This album is hot! Rock on, J, we love you!
War of the words: Regarding the item on Tom Tancredo in the September 28 Off Limits:
"Racist," like the word "Nazi," is simply a propaganda word. So Tom Tancredo can't be a racist, as such. But is he racially conscious and willing to openly promote the ethnic interests of his people? In other words, is he like the typical Jew or non-white in America?
Given the predatory nature of our species, we, by instinct, use whatever weapon is available to attack a competing group -- especially propaganda. In the modern era, the words "Nazi" and "racist" are custom-defined by each sovereign race and used to denigrate their competition. (White Gentiles are viewed as a subjugated race and so avoid any form of racial aggression.) From the standpoint of most Jews, for example, the Irish, Italians, Poles and American whites (any white racial family) -- are "social constructs" and deemed Nazis if they seek to endure as a people and/or control their own culture.
Racially emasculated white Gentiles (the William F. Buckleys or Bill O'Reillys) are palatable, but white Gentiles who are the counterpart of the typical Jew or non-white are deemed Nazis. In other words, white Gentiles who are not racially emasculated are targeted with this propaganda word; they're the David Dukes.
So, is Tancredo like the typical Jew or non-white in America? All evidence shows that he is not, that he is racially emasculated.
Sorry behavior: I read your bit about Tom Tancredo expecting an apology from John Salazar and his aide because she stood up against Tancredo's repeated attempts to inflame every Muslim in the world. Bill Winter is a sane, sensible alternative to Tom Tancredo.
Cozy concerts: Thanks for Dave Herrera's September 21 Beatdown on the house concert in Denver. House concerts are a great way to hear traveling musicians in an intimate, acoustic setting rather than a noisy bar or coffee shop. They are kind of an underground phenomenon, but information on other Front Range-area house concerts is at www.coloradohouseconcerts.com.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.