Brad Messer Commentary
8:15 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18, 2002

The first trial of the accused councilmen has started. Trial by media.

Yesterday, most of us read transcripts of tapes that were leaked to the Express-News. They were recorded by an informant wearing a wire for the FBI.

If you think Kike Martin and John Sanders took $12-thousand knowing it was bribery, then the tapes probably reinforce your belief. If you think they just might be innocent recipients of campaign donations, there was something in the tapes for you, too.

I enjoy a leak as much as the next potential jury member, but this one stinks. The transcript may be accurate, and it may not be. The newspaper report cites what is called "A noise that sounded like dollar bills being shuffled." That would be a mighty subtle noise, wouldn't it. That mike must have been extraordinary to be able to pick up something as soft as "A noise that sounded like dollar bills being shuffled."

Do you believe that is evidence, or stagecraft? I think it is the art of persuasion at work, using selected tape clips to start the big spin job.

Once the tapes were leaked, the newspaper was legally and ethically right in printing the story. But the potential jury pool is being tainted: defense attorneys will likely try to have the trials moved away from San Antonio. Whomever released the handy-dandy CDs of the wire tapes should be whipped.

Brad Messer— commentary, KTSA.


Express-News Sunday report on the leaked tapes HERE
Audio files of tape exerpts HERE
Express-News followup report Monday HERE


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