Acess Denied

The air's not dead at Boulder's Community Access TV, but it sure isn't feeling very good.

In January, Ron Secrist, Boulder's city manager, put a new CATV contract for the year 2000 on hold until after a review panel appointed by the city council investigates charges that the organization is completely out of control.

But just as surprising as the hullabaloo itself is the person who spurred it: Jann Scott, a Boulder nutball whom practically no one has ever taken seriously.

Or at least no one used to take him seriously.

When did Scott's mojo start working overtime? Date it to last October and the final days of deliberation by the JonBenét Ramsey grand jury.

Reporters from around the globe (not to mention The Globe itself) had been in the city for the better part of a week, breathlessly awaiting an announcement. They surrounded the center ring (the Boulder County Justice Center) during the days and well into the evenings, shoving microphones in the faces of perturbed passersby, shouting questions at anyone whom they even suspected of being a government official, and speculating wildly about possible killers, potential motives and/or the gynecological condition of a six-year-old child who by then had been dead for nearly half as long as she'd been alive.

But when it came to the most obnoxious of this obnoxious lot, no out-of-towner could compare to the man who for over a decade has worn the crown as the Boulder media's King Pest: the one, the only Mr. Scott.

Of course, plenty of journalists don't consider the fifty-something Scott (profiled in "Big Mouth," November 25, 1992), a part of the legitimate Boulder media at all. His TV shows, Jann Scott Tonite and Jann Scott Live, appear on public-access stations (CATV/Channel 54 in Boulder and DCTV/Channel 57 in Denver), not powerhouse area outlets or sizable cable operations. Even those who do like Scott appreciate him mainly as comic relief: KHOW yakker Peter Boyles says, admiringly, "Jann Scott is crazier than a shithouse rat, but, boy, is he fun."

Such characterizations don't phase Scott in the slightest. In his mind, he's a heavy hitter, and no one can convince him otherwise. As the grand jury mused behind closed doors, the five-foot-four-inch Scott hung with the national and international press's big boys and girls, flitting around with his underwhelming camcorder (the one you picked up for your grandma at Circuit City looks more impressive) like a psychotic troll seeking out his next victim. Who else would aim his lens at a reporter and ask if she had slept her way to the top? Who else would ask another one if her coldness to his questions meant she wouldn't go out on a date with him that evening?

But Scott's most notable coup came only after grand jurors decided not to issue indictments in the slaying. The next day, October 14, Boulder County District Attorney Alex Hunter held a nationally telecast news conference during which he tried to reassure the JonBenét industry that he and his minions still believed it was possible to bring the little girl's murderer or murderers to justice. Throughout, Hunter worked overtime to say nothing of interest, and for the most part, his questioners let him get away with it. But then, in the midst of the proceedings, Scott's head (barely) popped into view. "Did you get a true bill signed by the grand jury?" he asked Hunter. "And how many dissenters were there?"

Hunter's expression might have been describable as barely disguised contempt had he gone to the trouble of barely disguising it. Instead, he glared at Scott as if he had just vomited on his new suit. "Jann, you need to read the statute about grand jury secrecy. Next question," Hunter snapped. And then, not quite under his breath, he muttered, "Jerk."

Cut to that evening's Larry King show, which found the avuncular, oft-wed CNN icon in the company of Patsy Ramsey's sister and mouthpiece, Pam Paugh; America's Most Wanted host John Walsh; Newsweek correspondent Dan Glick; attorney-to-the-stars F. Lee Bailey; the Rocky Mountain News's Lisa Levitt Ryckman; O.J. expert witness Dr. Henry Lee; and CNN legal correspondent Greta Van Susteren.

Following a commercial break, King said, "Here's something Greta Van Susteren had expressed a lot of interest in. It was asked today by a reporter named Jann at the press conference. Watch." And then he rolled a clip from earlier that day featuring Scott's query about a true bill (a report supported by at least nine of twelve jurors that becomes an indictment if it's signed by a prosecutor) and Hunter's testy reply.

After the snippet ran its course, King noted, "The last word, 'jerk,' was obviously heard. Greta, was that a jerky question?" And while Van Susteren didn't offer a ringing endorsement of Scott's wisdom -- "Well, I think, he didn't ask it very well," she said, and went on to offer rephrasings that might have been "more clever" -- she was still talking about him! On CNN! With Larry King!

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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