Opinion by Brian Reilly
I find it fascinating that people like Sharon Rondeau, Mark Gillar, Mike Volin and Carl Gallups continue to report their news stories about Arpaio and Zullo according to what they’ve been told, or what they have read from other sources, not what they have actually witnessed. The most recent case in point, is the December 18, 2015 Tea Party Power Hour radio show with Mark Gillar interviewing Sharon Rondeau of the Post & Email internet newspaper. (1) None of the information Rondeau reported was her own eye witness account of court room events in the Melendres v. Arpaio contempt of court hearings.
While I seldom pay much attention to these people, I did listen to this particular show. I’ve attempted to publish my thoughts at Birther Report without successfully breaking their censorship barrier. I’ve attempted to pass on accurate information to the above mentioned people, also with no apparent success. I was a witness to the contempt of court hearings and I personally witnessed volunteer posse member Mike Zullo claim his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination 264 times during his testimony on the 10th and on the 12th of November. I also witnessed Mike Zullo’s reported emotional meltdown during his testimony on the 12th.
What I witnessed in court was shocking. Mike Zullo had been very subdued and professional while on the stand on the 10th, until he decided to stop claiming the Fifth on the 12th. Suddenly, he became loud, demeaning and angry. He became so loud that the court public address speakers began to distort and pop while he yelled into the microphone. He became so emotional that I thought he was on the verge of tears as his voice cracked. It was an amazing and noteworthy outburst. It was also very unprofessional. I’m very familiar with Zullo’s rapid mood swings.
During the break, I was standing in the hall outside the courtroom, speaking with former MCSO Chief Deputy Brian Sands. We were trying to assess what we had just witnessed. We both agreed that Zullo looked like he had cracked under pressure. Suddenly, Zullo burst through the courtroom double doors, and quickly walked over to me, reaching out his right hand, he grabbed my left hand and he said, “It’s alright, Bro!” He was giddy, and highly animated. Both Sands and I questioned what we had just experienced. Zullo turned to his right and then he began to pace up and down the hall. Absolutely nobody approached Zullo out in the hall. He was alone. Not even his wife, Alicia came to court to support Zullo.
Sharon Rondeau, and other Birthers have been highly and unjustly critical of the Phoenix media and the reporting done by professional journalists who have attended the Melendres v. Arpaio contempt of court hearings.
Reporter, Megan Cassidy was in attendance and reported: (2)
“…Zullo became unhinged.” “With a flushed face and, at times, wavering voice, Zullo unleashed a diatribe…”
Reporter Joe Dana was in attendance and reported: (3)
“A key operative [Zullo] for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s volunteer posse surprised the court Thursday, aggressively and loudly answering questions…”
“Arpaio posse leader [Zullo] erupts under oath” “Your honor, at some point I need to stop answering questions… It’s like I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Reporter Stephen Lemons was in attendance and reported: (4)
“Posse honcho Mike Zullo, giddy after spilling his guts on the stand.”
“Zullo continued to respond, getting louder and more animated with each gentle query by Young.”
“What is this, a star chamber?” he [Zullo] blurted out. “Don’t my rights matter?”
“I [Zullo] don’t know what I’m doing,”
“This was a brain-damaged dance I did with this guy,” Zullo said of Montgomery.
Reporter Jude Joffe-Block was in attendance and reported: (5)
“Mike Zullo, provided a dramatic conclusion to the hearing with his testimony.”
I witnessed the same events in court along with the Phoenix reporters mentioned above. Their reporting was accurate and professional and mirrored the events that I witnessed in court on the 10thand 12th of November. And for the record, Sharon Rondeau, Mark Gillar, Mike Volin and Carl Gallups were not in attendance in court on November 12th, to witness these events unfold. But despite this handicap, they continued to spin their tales of speculation to sway the opinions of the Birther faithful.
How did Mark Gillar and Sharon Rondeau attempt to sway Birther opinion on the Tea Party Power Hour? The following was transcribed from the program1: (1)
“I know how bad the reporting is in the Phoenix area…”
“Well, that is uh, very well said. And, I have found that that is absolutely true. And I’ve only recently found this I mean let’s say in the last year since I have been following this case. It is just astounding.
Ah, one of them [Megan Cassidy] described Mike Zullo’s November 12th testimony as unhinged. She used the word unhinged, she said, that’s when he became unhinged. As a journalist, you don’t use words like that, that’s an opinion, uhm, it sways public opinion. And, all of them seem to do that. To use the word such as unhinged or uhm, some of them they use different terms, like that he had an outburst, or, but they were, they were describing things, without really getting into the substance of what Mike Zullo said.
So, in other words, they put out headlines, they used words to sway public opinion, and I was very, very surprised to find out how bad the reporters are there. Phoenix is a big city, and Maricopa County has hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions of people, I’m not even sure how many, it’s a very big jurisdictional area I know and the Sheriff’s department I think is the third largest in the country. I’ll have to check it. It’s second or third. It’s quite big. So you would think that they would have the best reporters but they do not. So, to basically confirm what you have said, I have found this out recently.”
Sharon Rondeau then went on to say: After Zullo’s November 12th testimony, “Nobody interviewed him… Nobody interviewed him. Nobody wanted to interview him… Nobody flocked to Zullo.” Ms. Rondeau never explained why she or the other Birther news outlets have never done a recorded interview with Mike Zullo after he gave his testimony. (I’m told by Mike Volin that Mike Zullo, after his court testimony, refused to do an on air interview with Volin, Gallups and Rondeau.)
If Ms. Rondeau would have been in court to witness Mike Zullo’s peculiar behavior, she would be in a better position to understand why “nobody flocked to Zullo.” His unprofessional testimony was simply not believable. Ms. Rondeau may wish to review the definition and the synonyms for the word “unhinged.” (6)
Ms. Rondeau stated in her interview with Mr. Gillar that, “The transcript cannot be the full story. There has to be more to this.” I very much agree. If Ms. Rondeau would have attended the court proceedings along with the Phoenix reporters, she would have witnessed the complete story. Mike Zullo appeared unhinged and his testimony was simply not believable.
And finally, because I attended the hearings, I witnessed firsthand, inaccuracies in Mr. Zullo’s testimony to the court, given while under oath. My expectation is that criminal referrals will be forthcoming for Sheriff Arpaio and others. Judge Snow will not allow his court to be disrespected or obstructed.
Are Birther reporters professional and accurate? Not according to my experience.