Commentary

Letters to the Editor

Page 2 of 3

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.

David Mills
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.


Malfunction Junction

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.)

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