Saturday, November 20, 2010

Smart/McCann campaign trail...

March 19, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY As the long months of Elizabeth Smart's absence drew on, many of those who had searched and prayed and wept for her began to doubt that she would ever be found. Not so the Smart family, who kept hunting for clues, prodding law enforcement agencies, and orchestrating a costly publicity campaign that kept Elizabeth's face in front of millions across the nation.

When Elizabeth was returned after nine months of horrendous wandering in the custody of a pair of religious fanatics, the family's joy was unbounded. It was shared by thousands in their hometown, and millions across America and even the world, for the story of Elizabeth's midnight kidnapping from her home had become internationally known.

But the Smart family's ordeal is not yet over. The publicity that they understandably generated in hopes of bringing Elizabeth home will dog them for months, probably years. The media collaborated in publicizing the search for Elizabeth. When she was finally found, platoons of reporters and cameramen descended on Salt Lake City. News organizations around the world overloaded the phones of the Deseret News with requests for our expertise, our photos, our leads, the phone numbers of key figures in the story.

Only hours behind them were the moviemakers, the book publishers, the television documentary producers who - with or without the Smart family's permission - will keep the Elizabeth Smart story alive for years.

Comment:The Smarts had a movie deal within the year, Elizabeth wanted to play herself  in the film, the producer declined her very kind invitation'???

It is an incredible story. The teenage girl is stalked and then abducted at knife point in the middle of the night from an affluent neighborhood.

Comment: Katherine, Elizabeths sister said a gun and then changed her story to a knife. Last week when Elizabeths mother gave her testimony she said a 'gun' defence for Mitchell did not respond or question this 'slip up'.

Months go by. Various suspects are investigated, including itinerant handymen who have worked on the Smart house. One of them is arrested on other charges, but dies in custody, perhaps taking with him relevant information.

Comment: Raymond Hewlett .

 Finally "Emmanuel," who worked briefly on the house, is fingered. He is actually Brian David Mitchell, a ranting street preacher with a scraggly beard, often dressed in biblical white robes. Alert citizens, recognizing him from a photo displayed on "America's Most Wanted," call police when they see him in company with two females, also in white robes, with their faces obscured.

Although she initially denies it, one of them is Elizabeth Smart. She is returned to her family. Mr. Mitchell and the other female, his wife, Wanda, are arrested and jailed. The police investigation revolves around the thesis that Mitchell and his wife had a "revelation" that they were to take seven wives, and Elizabeth was targeted as the first of them.

Comment: There is no evidence of rape or photographs of Elizabeths leg which would be scarred after being shackled for months The forensics from the slashed mesh on the window, shown to be cut from the inside also no longer in evidence.

After Elizabeth's kidnapping, they spent the nine months as wanderers in Utah and the San Diego area with Elizabeth in their custody.

Reporters are exploring obvious questions. How was Elizabeth treated? If there were opportunities to escape, why didn't she take them? Was she brainwashed, and, if so, how?

Comment: One wanders where Mitchell found 'all of this money' to travel and feed two women, when asked he said ' God ' gave it to him. Elizabeth on her return did not look like a girl who had lived 'nine months of hell' she was 'glowing' and went straight home from the police station  to play her harp and watch her favourite movie. The movie 'The trouble with Angels'  a story about a couple of teenagers who enjoy causing havoc. Her fathers words ' Elizabeth left as a child and returned a woman'.......... Bizarre quite bizarre.

Answers to some of these questions will likely come as the prosecution of Mitchell and his wife proceeds, presuming they are not ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial.

The first pictures of Elizabeth at home with her family, used widely by various newspapers and news organizations, were taken by a Deseret News photographer, Tom Smart, who is her uncle. When she was kidnapped, Tom was given paid leave to support the family and help in the search for her.

Comment: The McCanns also had their very own 'Tom Smart'..... in Jon Corner.

When he returned to duty with the newspaper he was, to avoid any conflict, assigned to stories other than the Smart case. When Elizabeth was found, he was again released from duty. The photos he took at the request of the family were his. The family asked the Deseret News to distribute them widely and it did. The newspaper did not buy the pictures. It did not sell them. It honored a Smart family request.

Ideally, Elizabeth should have privacy to reintegrate with her family and to enjoy time for recovery and emotional mending after a horrifying ordeal. We in the journalistic profession owe her that.

Comment: Elizabeth and her father were only interested in writing a book and closing a movie deal. Tom Smart also wrote a book.

It will not be easy for the Smarts. Elizabeth has become both victim and celebrity. Her own experience could offer hope to parents of abducted children still missing.

 It could offer lessons to parents of children whose concern about possible abduction has been heightened.

Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, is waging an animated campaign promoting in Congress the AMBER alert system, which would use highway signs and the media to spread word quickly about abductions.

Comment: McCann flew straight to Washington to discuss Amber Alert in 2007

Fair and appropriate coverage of the Elizabeth Smart story should continue. But a primary concern should be for the healing and future of a young girl who should never have had to undergo the experience she has.
John Hughes, editor and chief operating editor of the Deseret News, is a former editor of the Monitor.

Comment:  The McCanns using the Smart story as  their template makes life so much easier for them, they do not have to think because  Elizabeth 'is alive' and Gerry only has to look on the Internet to read what was Eds next move. Many entries on Gerry's blog are similar phrases used by Ed Smart at the time of Elizabeths ' abduction',  possibly one of the reasons he deleted.