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May. 3 2010 - 11:51 am | 2,229 views | 1 recommendation | 1 comment

Fox News Quotes My Reporting on Barry Cooper … And Gets It Wrong

Judge Napolitano, the staple libertarian on Fox News, has a thing for attacking the drug war, and rightfully so.

Sadly, while attempting to shed light on one of the war’s top insurgents, it was accuracy that fell victim to political fervor in a recent segment he aired featuring former narcotics officer Barry Cooper.

Yes, of course you remember him.

Introducing the segment, Napolitano even quoted my reporting (sans credit, of course), noting how Cooper’s activism made him into an “unsuitable” parent in the eyes of police in Williamson County. However, he also made the same mistake as radio host Alex Jones in discussing this case: both libertarian talkers claimed the authorities took Cooper’s step-son Zachary.

This would be wrong.

Granted, Cooper believes Williamson County police contacted Zachary’s father thereby initiating the custody battle, which looks to hinge upon the misdemeanor marijuana charges dealt after police raided the Coopers’ home under most unusual circumstances.

Still, the distinction must be made: the State of Texas, Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Travis County District Attorney’s office are the reason why Barry and his wife did not go to jail for felony child endangerment. Zachary’s father took the boy.

“CPS actually did a good job,” Cooper told Napolitano. “They cleared us, said we’re a good family. The district attorney in Travis County said we’re a good family and all the kids looked happy, healthy and well-cared-for.”

“I think you should accuse these police of kidnapping your child because of your First Amendment activities, which are absolutely protected outside the home and within,” Napolitano said, even after being corrected.

The distinction here is very important.

Too often, government agencies are painted with a broad brush of blame for travesties of justice. In this case, the libertarian tilt of two major media personalities seems to have overridden their commitment to accuracy in reporting.

CPS and Travis County are the saviors in this story and that’s no small fact. Much as anti-government fervor and claims of spectacular tyranny serve to boost their ratings, my countrymen in punditry would be well served to note the error.

When it comes to people who’ve otherwise done an exceptional job in protecting the innocent and digging for truth amid a web of lies and wild exaggerations, there’s no need for tar or feather.

(Speaking of an exceptional job, check out Michael May’s Texas Observer feature on Barry Cooper, available here and on well-cultured news stands across the state.)


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    About Me

    My name is Stephen. I am a News Junkie and an assistant editor at RawStory.com. My work has appeared in publications both printed and online, including The Dallas Business Journal, the cover of Fort Worth Weekly and in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, Austin Monthly, Envy Magazine and others. I also covered the rebirth of the U.S. peace movement first-hand for The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, starting with the city's first public screening of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' all the way through the end of Cindy Sheehan's stay. I've seen my reporting discussed in publications such as Time, Wired, Reason, The Washington Post, D Magazine, The Guardian UK, Media Matters, ThinkProgress, Alternet, Cannabis Culture, 1-UP, Destructoid, Kotaku, GameSpot, G4TV and many others. I am currently open for freelance assignments and actively seeking a literary agent. You can follow me on Twitter @StephenCWebster, or from Facebook.com/StephenCWebster.

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