Why is it that some lies are so difficult to rebut? One reason: eviscerating untruths is made infinitely harder when the media is complicit in perpetuating them.
For many years, I've written about the ties between ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce (who believes it's the Legislature's "duty" to "reimburse" him $260,000 for money that his failed recall campaign spent) and well-known neo-Nazi, alleged kid-killer, and apparent suicide victim J.T. Ready.
And yet, Wednesday night, more than one TV news show uncritically reported Pearce's self-serving statement about his relationship with Ready, whom authorities believe offed himself and four others at a Gilbert home Wednesday afternoon. Some news anchors related the press release as if it were true, failing to challenge Pearce's skewed version of his own personal history.
As I've demonstrated on numerous occasions, Pearce is a serial prevaricator. I've spent a lot of time cataloging his dishonesty on several subjects, including his connection to Ready, to whom he was close at one time.
Indeed, the pair once were so close that Pearce attended Ready's baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 2004, Pearce ordained Ready an elder in the church's Melchizedek priesthood, an office held by adult men of the Mormon faith.
Pearce's entire statement on the Gilbert massacre is reproduced below. In it, Pearce paints himself as the victim, whining about reporters and editors calling him for comment. He accuses these journos of trying to "score the ugliest of political points off of this tragedy," when, in reality, calling a political figure who was at one time publicly affiliated with Ready is a no-brainer in light of current events.
In the statement, the erstwhile legislator admits to having known Ready but insists that he was ignorant of Ready's extremist views and associations when they were pals. Reports to the contrary are false, he insists."In the past several years, the local media has worked hard to try to tie me to the J.T. Ready that preached hate," Pearce asserts. "And that is nothing more than a lie. When I learned the truth about him, I made it clear how wrong I thought it was, and I worked to remove him from our party." Pearce claims he thought Ready was just a stand-up ex-Marine, and that Ready's turn to the dark side only became evident later.
"At some point in time, darkness took his life over. His heart changed," Pearce writes. "And he began to associate with the more despicable groups in society. They were intolerant and hateful and like so many who knew him from before, I was upset and disappointed at the choices he was making."
And if you buy that, I've got a bridge in Lake Havasu I want to sell you.
Pearce supported Ready's run for Mesa City Council in 2006. You can see video of Pearce endorsing him for that post in a mini-documentary videographer Dennis Gilman and I did on the Pearce-Ready relationship, here. It also includes a exclusive interviews with Ready and video of the 2007 speech mentioned below.
During 2006, Ready was involved in a strange, almost comical "shootout" with an illegal alien in Mesa as Ready drove back from a trip to Walmart. Other outlets reported on a 1992 aggravated assault charge in Florida that Ready had on his record.
Ready also told the press that he was courting the support of the Mesa Hell's Angels in his city council bid. If that's not a red flag, I don't know what is.
After Ready lost the election, the East Valley Tribune exposed his checkered history as a Marine, including the fact that he had been court-martialed twice, then drummed out of the military.
In March 2007, the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona exposed Ready as a white-supremacist during a forum at the state Legislature on extremism in Arizona's anti-immigrant movement. Then state House member Kyrsten Sinema sponsored the event. You can watch video of that forum, here.