Pucker Up

The most sluttish national TV performance of the week in a contrived Colorado soap opera wasn't provided by a member of The Real World: Denver. No, it was on a piece of shamelessness concerning the JonBenét Ramsey murder that aired on the once-proud "news" program 48 Hours. On Saturday night, pliable host Erin Moriarty showed she was willing to jump on any available bandwagon -- as long as it got her an exclusive interview with JonBenét's dad, John "Media Victim" Ramsey.

With John's help, as well as that of strange bedfellows CU journalism professor Michael Tracey, ex-prosecutor Trip DeMuth and staunch "intruder theorist" Lou Smit, Moriarty managed to present the embarrassing catch-and-release of bogus confessor John Mark Karr last August as a triumph of super-sleuthing over the forces of evil. Never mind that Karr's DNA failed to match evidence found at the crime scene (and that prosecutors have said the mystery DNA may not be the killer's at all). The program advanced the jaw-dropping notion that Karr, who wasn't even in Boulder at the time, might have been an "accomplice" to the real killer -- a variant on the conspiracy theory pushed by Tracey in a wildly misleading 2004 documentary that focused on two other implausible suspects ("Made for Each Other," October 12).

The official source for this claptrap? A Homeland Security cop, who declared that the Karr investigation "will remain open until evidence shows that he is not part of the conspiracy." Hmm. Maybe it was the work of a Small Foreign Faction after all.


JonBen�t Ramsey

But it was Tracey's fingerprints, not Karr's, that were all over this show. Tracey, it turns out, has been a consultant to CBS for the past eight years -- further complicating his hopelessly conflicted roles as pontificating scholar, media critic, police informant, crusading documentarian and chief Ramsey suck-up and defender. Moriarty's report omitted any mention of the info Tracey supplied Karr during their four-year correspondence that helped fill in some of the gaping holes in his "confession." It also neglected to report on the dozens of suspects investigated and cleared by the Boulder police over the years (including many served up by John Ramsey himself), giving the impression that the Ramseys had been unfairly singled out for scrutiny, just because they happened to be in the house when their daughter was killed.

Like Tracey's own shabby documentaries, 48 Hours presented Smit's intruder speculations as fact while muddling facts into oblivion. Even Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy, who seems to believe in the intruder theory as much as anyone, hasn't gone so far as to officially "clear" the Ramseys simply because the phantom DNA doesn't match theirs. That, apparently, is the job of fearless consultants and their all-too-eager shills at CBS.

Proof that cigarettes are bad for your health: A bulletin from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office last week sounded the alert for four black males who'd approached a group of people at a bus stop at 7500 East Iliff Avenue, surrounded a male, asked him for money and cigarettes, then punched him in the face before getting the hell out of Dodge. This warning came as no surprise to Off Limits, since an operative had received the same treatment in mid-October on East Colfax Avenue. Our man had stepped outside the Goosetown Tavern for a cigarette -- which he'd bummed -- and was about to light up when a car pulled up beside him and four black males got out.

"Let me get a cigarette!" one man rudely demanded. "I only have this one," our operative responded, and before the conversation could progress any further, the man socked our boy on the side of the head, then hopped back in the car and drove off with his pals -- while fellow smokers on the patios of Goosetown and Mezcal looked on in disbelief. Our operative, face a bit swollen but otherwise fine (he's a Masshole; they know how to take a punch), was pretty sure he was the random, unfortunate victim of some fucked-up gang-initiation scavenger hunt, since a few in the quartet were rocking red bandannas.

Obviously, the real world operates outside of LoDo, too.


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