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Florida Officials Fight to Suppress Video Footage of Parkland Shooting

If the Broward County School District and State Attorney’s Office have their way the public will never know exactly what took place on Valentine’s Day 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida. The release of such information will jeopardize the school’s security system and thus student safety, attorneys for the entities argued before the Fourth District Court of Appeals this week.

In April a lower court judge ruled that the additional video of the school’s exteriors be released after suit was brought by ten media companies. The Broward Sheriff’s Office has not joined in the appeal.

According to a Miami Herald report,

Releasing the footage could jeopardize the “integrity” of the video surveillance system at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, putting students at risk, a school board attorney told a three-judge panel at the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. A lawyer representing the Broward state attorney said the footage constituted “criminal investigative information” that should not be disclosed under Florida’s broad public records law.

Some Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies are said to have taken cover during the Feb. 14 attack by former student Nikolas Cruz that killed 17 people. The exterior camera footage — sought by nearly a dozen media outlets, including the Miami Herald — may show what actions deputies took during and shortly after a six-minute shooting spree that left students and staff bleeding to death from grievous wounds.

“The footage is the only objective evidence of what occurred and when,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, which joined the media in suing for the footage. “The whole purpose of our open government laws is oversight and accountability. Access to the video footage allows us to hold those accountable who may not have done their jobs.”

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Seth Rich Murder Press Conference (Live)

Crowdsource the Truth w/Jerome Corsi

Today marks the two year anniversary of the alleged botched robbery that is purported to have taken Seth Rich’s life. Oddly timed, a recently announced press conference purports to provide new evidence including potentially explosive accusations of law enforcement involvement in the incident. Dr. Jerome Corsi joins me via Skype to assess the information.

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Alex Jones’ Actual Malice

How a Talk Show Host Can Help Defeat the First Amendment

By James F. Tracy

Beginning in April the parents of children said to have perished in the December 2012 Sandy Hook School massacre have filed defamation lawsuits against Alex Jones (e.g. here, here and here) and others claiming the radio talk show host defamed them by repeatedly stating to his audience that the incident was staged. The plaintiffs are requesting an unspecified monetary sum from the defendant, claiming he caused them to be harassed and threatened by parties who share Jones belief that the event was a hoax.

In the event these actions are tried they will in all probability not function as a venue where the veracity of the Sandy Hook event itself can be verified or disproven. Nor will the plaintiffs likely have to provide much if any evidence of harassment or pain and suffering.

The parents’ attorneys assert in one suit that “overwhelming–and indisputable–evidence exists showing what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.” This claim is unanimously (though erroneously) supported by Connecticut State authorities and national news media, and has been accepted as settled fact by a federal judge in Lucyv.Richards.

Alex Jones faces new defamation lawsuit, hires attorney

An open question remains whether the suing parties would need to suppress any countervailing evidence. This is largely because over five years after the Sandy Hook massacre event Jones still routinely exhibits uncertainty on whether or not the shooting was real. It is with this suggestion of “actual malice” that he is setting himself up for an untenable position before a jury.

Sullivanv.NewYorkTimes defined actual malice as a primary requisite for a plaintiff to prevail in bringing a defamation suit. In that famous episode the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an advertisement with factual inaccuracies produced by 1960s civil rights advocates and carried in the Times had not been published with actual malice. The court ruled that under the given circumstances the newspaper’s staff did not run the ad either 1) knowing it was false, or 2) with reckless disregard for the truth.

In the cases at hand Jones’ would-be confusion about Sandy Hook began just hours after the alleged shooting itself, when Jones, perhaps anticipating the mixed orientation of his audience toward the incident, expressed confusion over exactly what took place in Newtown. At the same time, and without any real evidence, he used anonymous callers’ observations to label the event a probable “false flag.” This ambiguity would continue for more than five years.

In the months and years thereafter substantial evidence emerged suggesting the “massacre” was probably a FEMA drill overseen by the Obama administration and presented as an actual attack to lay the groundwork for strengthening gun control legislation. Some of this data was compiled in the book edited by Professor Jim Fetzer, Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.

Instead of inviting Fetzer on to his radio program following the book’s publication and subsequent censorship by Amazon.com in late 2015, Jones ran in the other direction, actually deleting a story by Infowars writer Adan Salazar from his website and thus in effect joining forces with Amazon to suppress that title’s revelations.

Jones conflicted stance toward Sandy Hook is now even mirrored in his attorney Marc Randazza’s public remarks. “We are going to be mounting a strong First Amendment defense and look forward to this being resolved in a civil and collegial manner,” Jones’ counsel Randazza explained to the New York Times, where he continues to note “that Mr. Jones has ‘a great deal of compassion for these parents.'”

Such a statement suggests how the Sandy Hook official narrative as  defined by the media (and in the minds of any potential jury member) is shared by the defendant himself and his own legal team.

University of Texas law professor David Anderson contends that Jones’ repeated waffling on Sandy Hook makes him especially vulnerable.

What I understand is that he’ll say these things at one point, and then later on, he’ll say, “Of course I know that wasn’t true.” If he says things, and then says he knows it wasn’t true, he’s in trouble. If he consistently says, “I never claimed that to be true,” then he’s probably on more solid ground.

Because Jones’ confusing array of broadcast utterances on Sandy Hook are all a matter of public record it will not be difficult for the “prosecution” to demonstrate Jones’ confusion amounts to a “reckless disregard for truth.”

Further, since Jones’ public persona precedes him and given the fact that jurors are often impressionable and will surely not be avid “Infowarriors,” plaintiffs’ counsel will likely find it easy to depict Jones as a devious and malicious actor. Unfortunately, these are all a jury needs to be fed to affirm the parents’ claims.

Jones’ uncertainty on the Sandy Hook massacre is especially unusual for a figure who is the self-proclaimed “founding father of the 9/11 truth movement,” and who for over two decades been the country’s most prominent “conspiracy theorist.”

Moreover, Jones strongly-voiced political opinions in many areas is what his fans find most appealing. In light of this the broadcaster has waffled so much on Sandy Hook that it’s difficult not to believe that he isn’t a pre-designated foil in a broader play to defeat what’s left of speech freedoms in the United States. It’s at least for certain that Jones is not any truth movement’s most desirable ally.

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Annapolis Capital Gazette Mass Shooting

City of Annapolis First Responders Drilled For Event June 22

National news media today are proving wall-to-wall coverage of an apparent mass shooting event at the offices of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis Maryland.

NBC’s Washington DC affiliate station reports:

Five people have died and several others are “gravely injured” after a shooting Thursday at the Capital Gazette newspaper building in Annapolis, Maryland, local and federal officials say.

The names of the dead were not released immediately.

The suspected shooter is 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos, three senior law enforcement officials briefed on the matter told NBC News. Anne Arundel County police declined to provide the suspect’s name.

The suspect threatened the community newspaper on social media, police department spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure said in a briefing Thursay night.

“This individual had some type of vendetta against the Capital newspaper, and they were specifically targeted,” he said.

The suspect is in custody, and authorities are interrogating him, officials said.

The suspect obscured his fingerprints, making it difficult to identify him, two senior law enforcement officials told NBC News. But officials were able to identify him using facial recognition software, multiple officials said. County police declined to comment on any use of those methods.

Mainstream news media employees are blaming President Trump’s criticism of “fake news media” for the event, according to the Washington Examiner,

Along these lines there are attempts to link the event to recent remarks made by political provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

You’re about to see a raft of news stories claiming that I am responsible for inspiring the deaths of journalists. The…

Posted by Milo Yiannopoulos on Thursday, June 28, 2018

Of course, these same corporate media outlets and personnel will keep from their readers the fact that, perhaps coincidentally, an active shooter drill took place in at St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis less than one week ago, as the Capital Gazette itself reported on its website June 22.

As MHB has repeatedly observed, in the fake news era the everyday spectator watching such a drill unfold on national television would be hard pressed to be able to distinguish between such a readiness exercise and a “real” event.

(Click to enlarge image)

In a video posted with the above report, for example, Annapolis fireman Ken White narrates the active shooter drill that took place just last week on St. Mary’s campus.

“With the increase of active shooter incidents we’re seeing we–the city has determined that it is important for us to hold this training,” White explains, “so that in the event that something may happen we’ll be well-prepared.”

Annapolis firefighters Ken White briefs Capital Gazette readers on the active shooter drill held June 22, 2018.
The City of Annapolis Police and Fire Departments held an active shooter drill June 22, 2018 at St. Mary’s High School.

A drill being held by local law enforcement and emergency response agencies has been a repeated occurrence at Annapolis and numerous mass shooting events over the past several years, indeed ever since the number of such incidents exploded under the Obama administration.

H/t Tony Mead

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Five Years Later: An Open Letter to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Editor’s Note: Five years ago MHB posted the letter from James Tracy to the Sun-Sentinel and accompanying statements republished below. The newspaper and its editor, Howard Saltz, played key roles in circulating fraudulent and deceptive reports and commentary on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Boston Marathon bombings, and subsequent mass casualty events, while Sun-Sentinel editorial staff took aim at FAU Professor James Tracy for analyzing such events on his personal blog, Memory Hole.

Saltz’s inflammatory articles targeting Tracy culminated in a December 11, 2015 opinion piece purportedly authored by Lenny and Veronique Pozner, parents of a Sandy Hook child victim, according to the incident’s official narrative.

Saltz was terminated by the Sun-Sentinel’s parent company, Tronc, in February 2018, just days after the major mass shooting event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. During his seven year tenure at the paper Saltz frustrated Sentinel reporters for allegedly censoring important stories at the newspaper, with one critic calling him a “cancer on Florida journalism.”

On June 3, 2013 James Tracy sent a letter to Sun-Sentinel editor-in-chief Howard Saltz citing the paper’s repeated attacks on Tracy for publicly questioning government pronouncements and overall news coverage of the Sandy Hook massacre and Boston Marathon bombing. In a June 17 response to the letter Saltz maintains that the Sun-Sentinel’s remarks are defensible given its newsworthiness and under the tenets of free speech.

“Our news coverage has not judged the merits of your arguments,” Saltz contends. “It never will. We will report them, and let the chips fall where they may.”

Tracy’s article, “The Sandy Hook School Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information,” received wide circulation in alternative media outlets in late December, immediately prior to the Sentinel‘s string of stories and commentaries highlighting Tracy.

The letter is reprinted in its entirety below followed by excerpts from Saltz’s response.

James F. Tracy, PhD
Boca Raton, FL

June 3, 2013

Howard Saltz
Editor in Chief
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
500 East Broward Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33394

Sent Certified Mail: Return Receipt Requested

Dear Howard Saltz,

I am writing in reference to the numerous articles and opinion pieces published by the Sun-Sentinel regarding my public commentaries on the December 14, 201[2] Newtown massacre and the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Without seriously assessing what I have actually sought to argue, each of these pieces have almost without exception vigorously assailed my character and overall assessment of these public events while advocating for dismissal from my faculty post at Florida Atlantic University, implying or explicitly calling attention to my alleged moral or even mental incapacity to hold such a position. Taken as a whole, the uniformly negative nature of such articles and commentaries can be considered as nothing less than a concerted campaign against me and is arguably libelous.

The following are quotes from some of the news and opinion articles published by your newspaper since January 7, 2013:

“A communication professor known for conspiracy theories has stirred controversy at Florida Atlantic University … “ Mike Clary, “FAU Prof Stirs Controversy By Disputing Newtown Massacre,” January 7, 2013.*

“A tenured professor has to spout a lot of craziness before you can oust one … I find conspiracy theorists fascinating. They view the world through a permanent prism of distrust and paranoia. Maybe they were dropped on their head when they were babies, or it’s something in the genes.” Chan Lowe, “FAU Prof’s Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theory,” January 11, 2013.

“James Tracy still has a job at Florida Atlantic University, FAU media relations director Lisa Metcalf said Wednesday. But beyond that, she didn’t say much about Tracy, a tenured associate professor of communication who has brought much embarrassment to the university with his comments questioning the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre … I’m all for academic freedom, but there’s a not-so-fine line between critical thinking and crackpot lunacy. I sure am glad I’m not FAU president Mary Jane Saunders. I don’t know if I’d fire Tracy. Perhaps the best we can do is ignore him.” Michael Mayo, “FAU Takes Heat for Professor James Tracy’s Sandy Hook Comments,” January 24, 2013.*

“So score another one in the weird column for FAU … After taking a public relations hit last month with the wacky Internet musings of tenured communications professor James Tracy about the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre …” Michael Mayo, “FAU Stadium Deal with Prison Company is Odd Way to Feather Nest,” February 20, 2013.

“So far, 2013 has been a controversial year for the university. In January, associate professor James Tracy questioned on his personal blog whether the Sandy Hook massacre happened.” Scott Travis, “FAU Apologizes After Jesus Assignment Sparks Outrage,” March 25, 2013.*

“In January, after professor James Tracy made national news by suggesting the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre may have been staged, it took Saunders two days to release a statement saying his views were not shared by the university.” Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board, “More Missteps at FAU,” March 27, 2013.*

“Earlier this year, you had the public relations fiasco involving professor James Tracy, a tenured professor of communication who claimed that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings may not have happened, or didn’t happen as reported. The claim got national publicity, and not the good kind.” Gary Stein, “Does Stomp Jesus Show FAU Needs an Image Makeover?” March 27, 2013.*

“Unveil latest course offerings at school’s ‘edgy’ communications department: ‘Muhammad Cartoon Drawing 101,’ ‘Advanced Holocaust Denial,’ and ‘Professor James Tracy’s Lies, Damn Lies and Conspiracies.’” Michael Mayo, “How Low Can FAU Go?” March 27, 2013.

“ … professor James Tracy’s blog musings about the Sandy Hook massacre … “ Michael Mayo, “FAU President Says She’s ‘Totally Secure’ in Job,” April 3, 2013.

“ … FAU’s conspiracy theorist.” Scott Travis, “Controversial FAU Professor Questions Boston Bombing,” April 23, 2013.

“‘Our own FAU handbook says an employee may be terminated for questionable conduct, professional or personal,’ [FAU] trustee Robert Rubin said. ‘And what Professor Tracy said wasn’t?’ But making comments that are embarrassing to a university is not grounds to fire a tenured professor … “ Scott Travis, “Controversial FAU Professor Questions Boston Bombing,” April 23, 2013.

“Tracy’s Sandy Hook postings received nationwide attention and prompted FAU to issue him a formal reprimand.” Scott Travis, “Controversial FAU Professor Questions Boston Bombing,” April 23, 2013.*

“Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy … obviously needs a hobby so he can stop coming up with crackpot theories.” Gary Stein, “Should the FAU Professor be Fired for Off-the-Wall Theories?” April 25, 2013.

“FAU Professor James Tracy offered his opinion on the recent events that occurred in Boston in the Sun Sentinel on April 24 … While the vast majority of our university professors tend to be to the left of the political spectrum, most of them try to minimize mixing their ideological views with their professional responsibilities. There are others however, who use their title and position to intimidate and coerce students who do not subscribe to their way of thinking.” Caren Besner, “Some Professors Trying to Force Views on Students,” May 7, 2013.

“Forget the Clowns, Send in the headlines! … James Tracy’s musings …” Michael Mayo, “More Questions at FAU,” May 8, 2013.

“And everyone got mad when tenured communications professor James Tracy started spouting conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre and Boston Marathon bombings on his personal blog.” Michael Mayo, “FAU President’s Resignation No Surprise,” May 15, 2013.

“It didn’t help that Saunders had to deal with a wacko professor who twice made national news for doubting the veracity of the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School and later, the Boston Marathon.” Sun-Sentinel Editorial Staff, “What’s Next for FAU, Given It’s President’s Resignation,” May 16, 2013.

“As president, [Mary Jane Saunders] could not be blamed for the antics of some of her faculty (conspiracy theories …), Chan Lowe, “FAU’s Saunders Resigns,” May 16, 2013.

*Note: The memoryholeblog.com site had existed since March 2012. The blog and I were thrust into the national news only after the Sun-Sentinel published its January 7, 2013 story, “FAU Prof Stirs Controversy by Disputing Newtown Massacre.” Thereafter the Sun-Sentinel repeatedly refers to the “controversy,” suggesting its spontaneity, even though the paper played a major role in initiating and perpetuating it.

Published Letters to the Editor

“But I was also dismayed because the Sun Sentinel chose to put the article on the front page, needlessly giving more attention to this nut-case than he deserves.” Richard Mangan, “Give FAU a Break,” April 28, 2013.

“FAU professor James Tracy certainly has to have his First Amendment rights protected. However, if the students are as rankled by his blogs as many of us are, just don’t register for any of his classes.” Mike Marcus, “Don’t Attend James Tracy’s Classes,” April 28, 2013.

“When will this insanity stop? FAU associate professor James Tracy should be fired immediately. A person with his kind of thoughts has no place teaching young adults. Who knows what a mentally disturbed person like Tracy could do in the future. Let us stop hiding behind tenure.” David Hofield, “Why Should Tracy’s Tenure Matter,” April 28, 2013.

As the above examples clearly indicate, the Sun-Sentinel has repeatedly attacked my person and character. Your paper and staff have on numerous occasions published material suggesting that I be relieved of my position. At no time, however, has your paper sought to seriously dispute what I have said or written concerning Sandy Hook or Boston, instead choosing to ride the tide of poorly informed public outrage it has played a major role in fomenting. Such conduct is not so much journalistic as it is political.

As noted above, the entire controversy regarding my analysis of Sandy Hook massacre news coverage can be traced to a January 7 story written by Sun-Sentinel senior reporter Mike Clary. Clary expressed his delight that the story was picked up nationally in a January 8, 2013 telephone conversation with me. He again drew attention to this a few days later in a follow-up piece. “A Monday story in the Sun Sentinel in which Tracy discussed his views went viral and touched off a firestorm of controversy,” Clary wrote. “While many callers and emailers defended or even applauded Tracy’s remarks, others, including current and former FAU students, said they found his theories outrageous and offensive.” Mike Clary, “FAU Prof Should Be Fired, Newtown Official Says,” January 10, 2013.

Thus much of the “controversy” the Sun-Sentinel repeatedly points to with the underlying suggestion that it is spontaneous can be traced to its initial story—a story that your staff clearly sought to make as sensationalistic as possible. On the evening of January 7 in a telephone discussion with Mr. Clary, your reporter forcefully and repeatedly pushed me to assert that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was staged. He seemed irritated when I responded to his queries by remarking, “It’s a possibility,” or “The coverage suggests that it may have been.” My responses mirror the commentaries on my blog.

Further, in our initial telephone interview on the afternoon of January 7 Clary sought to question me under a false pretense—stating that he had been informed that the FAU administration was potentially initiating disciplinary action against me because of my blog. I have been told by one reliable party working within the FAU administration at the time that administrators knew nothing of my blog until Clary’s January 7 article was published and thereafter became a national story. Indeed, I was never spoken to by administrators about my blogging until January [18], [two] weeks after Clary’s initial story ran.

I have done a considerable degree of research on both the Newtown massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing. With the above in mind, and since the Sun-Sentinel is a newspaper with a skilled staff and a significant regional and national influence, I formally challenge you or any member of your editorial or reportorial staff to a public debate on the veracity of either Sandy Hook or the Boston Marathon events as related by government and law enforcement agencies, as well as in your newspaper and by the US press more broadly, versus the arguments that I have put forth.

I am sure you will agree that such a dialogue will be of special value since it will move us beyond tactless name calling and toward consideration of substantive evidence and analysis of events with major import. If you are confident enough in your particulars of how each of the events transpired, as suggested by the paper’s continued publication of such such serious and continual denunciations of my being and character, I am confident that you or your staff will be pleased to engage me in such an exchange.

If you agree to my challenge, arrangements for a suitable public forum and accommodations will be negotiated between your staff and me. If the Sun-Sentinel prevails in such a debate the public will be reassured of the paper’s devotion to truth, journalistic integrity, and the censures of me will be wholly justified. I will thereafter devote myself to further contemplating and learning from the flurry of disparaging coverage and remarks your staff and its regional broadcast peers have directed toward me and my person. If you are not successful in the exchange you will publicly apologize for the uniformly negative series of reports and commentaries your newspaper has published about me over the past five months.

Thank you for your consideration of the above. I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

James F. Tracy, PhD
561-___-____

On June 17 Mr. Saltz replied to the above correspondence via email, making the following points quoted verbatim here:

  • There is no concerted effort. Reporters and columnists are looking for stories, as they always do. And they’re finding stories in this situation.

  • Are the stories you cite legitimately newsworthy? I say yes. You’re a high-profile member of the community, in a position to influence others, espousing viewpoints that are unusual and perhaps inflammatory. That’s newsworthy, almost by definition.

  • You suggest in your letter that you may have been libeled. I am quite comfortable in my belief that the SunSentinel has not libeled you. We will therefore act accordingly.

  • The facts provided in the articles are, to the best of my knowledge, correct and true. If you believe there is an error of fact in our coverage, please feel free to tell me. You have not cited any in your letter.

  • The opinions expressed are within the bounds of fair comment. You advocate unusual theories; people will always challenge unusual theories and, perhaps unfortunately, some will be offensive in doing so. The people expressing these opinions are using the same free-speech right with which you espouse your views.

  • We would not engage in debate. That’s not what newspapers do. Your suggestion confuses our reporting of positions contrary to yours with taking positions contrary to yours. They are not the same thing.  If you engage in a public debate with someone else, we would report that. You could also express your views on the Newtown and Boston Marathon situations in an op-ed article; I would be happy to publish it.

Our news coverage has not judged the merits of your arguments. It never will. We will report them, and let the chips fall where they may.

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