Why CNN Needs to Pay More Attention

So a family-court judge in Reno, Chuck Weller, was shot through a courtroom window Monday by a disgruntled custody-seeking father, and here’s who CNN interviews about the incident:

Garret Idle went before Weller in 2005 seeking to increase his visitation time with his two children. Instead, he said, the judge slammed him for more child support and did not listen to any of his concerns about his son and daughter.

“Weller is very abusive. He’s a monster,” Idle, 48, said. “He’s destroyed everything I’ve worked for.”

Idle said that he met Mack [the shooter] at a support group for noncustodial parents and that the two would talk about how unfair they thought the judge was. Mack was upset at having to pay a lot of child support, Idle said.

“He’s been going to court for a year and he got the extreme royal shaft” from Weller, Idle said. “He said he had to file Chapter 7 because he was getting nailed.”

Aside from simply accepting, uncritically, Idle’s rather incendiary assertions about Weller (nice move, CNN, letting some guy rave about what a “monster” a judge who’s just been shot is without actually checking into the judge’s record), the article fails to mention that Idle’s been rather chatty on the subject of the Reno family court system and on a presumptive joint-custody bill under consideration by the Nevada legislature.

Those who lined up to testify said on one hand that joint custody hurts children’s development because they don’t have one place to consider home, while others – mostly fathers – said custody proceedings tend to favor the mother and that keeps them away from their children.

“The first step needs to be taken,” said Garret Idle, a Reno Realtor who is filing for full custody of his two children. “The current system drives families apart.”

He’s also testified before the Nevada Senate on the presumptive joint custody bill. In his testimony, he said he was representing himself as well as Nevadans for Equal Parenting.

He pops up on a father’s rights website as the Nevada coordinator, giving a rather creepy email address.

He was quoted by the Las Vegas Sun wrapping himself in the mantle of MLK after the joint-custody bill failed:

Around the country, and especially in Great Britain, groups that advocate equal parenting have been gaining steam.

“One day you can wake up and say, ‘he’s a jerk, I’m going to divorce him, take his money and his kids,’ “said Garret Idle, a Reno father who is actively involved in Nevadans for Equal Parenting.

Fathers 4 Justice is especially notorious in Great Britain, where fathers often camp out in public places such as Buckingham Palace in superhero suits to block traffic and attract attention.

“It’s the Civil Rights Movement of the New Age,” Idle said.

And check out Nevadans for Equal Parenting’s recommended reading list. It includes such classics as Debunking the Myth of Domestic Violence, Disenfranchised Father Syndrome, Divorce Related Malicious Mother Syndrome, and several works by Glenn Sacks, including 4 Feminist Myths About Domestic Violence.

It also includes How to Kidnap a Child and other works by Stephen Baskerville. See The Countess for much, much more on uber-wingnut Baskerville, who apparently believes that children are being stolen from straight parents and given to gay couples to raise.

Long story short, this guy is an MRA, and a quick Google search of the kind that turned up just about every link in this post should have told CNN that. CNN might also have figured out that the “support group” at which Mack, the shooter, met Idle was run by Nevadans for Equal Parenting. They may have even found this little article describing a visit by all the candidates for the family court judgeship eventually won by Weller to a meeting of Nevadans for Equal Parenting, at which the topic of temporary protective orders — because MRAs don’t believe in domestic violence, see, unless they’re complaining that men are equally battered — was discussed. They even had a video on their site of Weller discussing the TPOs and the role of an advocacy group in issuing them.

But instead, they give Idle a forum to expound on his MRA ideas, which of course involve the continuing control of ex-wives through the children and an outsized sense of being wronged by the very existence of divorce (see the comment above amounting to, “how dare the bitch leave me”), and slant the article to make it appear that the grievances of Mack — who stabbed his estranged wife, mind you — were perfectly reasonable given how “harsh” Weller allegedly was. Sure, they quoted a judge and lawyer saying that litigants often get frustrated with family-court judges and view fair decisions as unfair, but nothing at all from anyone responding to the rather specific statements made by Idle about Mack’s custody case. And while they do report that Weller was discussed in vitriolic terms on “websites,” they don’t tell us which ones — and they certainly don’t say if one of those websites belonged to the group which their main source represents.

No surprise judges are targets.

H/T Thomas.

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24 comments for “Why CNN Needs to Pay More Attention

  1. June 15, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Damn that liberal media bias!

  2. June 15, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    I apologize for posting twice in a row, but I wanted to add regarding the MRA movement, a local woman in Madison will soon be reunited with her daughter after her ex-husband kidnapped the girl ten years ago. The girl is now twelve years old and hasn’t seen her mother since the age of two. Would Garrett Idle find that to be an equitable arrangement between her parents?

  3. Richard Aubrey
    June 15, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    CNN isn’t worth the electricity to run the television.

    There is a learned discussion on this at the blog, “The Volokh Conspiracy”, mostly lawyers and law profs.

    One did some research and found that the judge in question had been challenged by family law attorneys at a rate vastly grater than whoever was in second place.

    I get the impression that the challenge in this court system is sort of like an appeal and is rarely used, unless the attorney feels a more-than-average hose job has been committed.

    This is the sort of thing that a reporter could do if she wanted to.

  4. Thomas
    June 15, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    Volokh Conspiracy isn’t worth the electricity to run the monitor. It’s a forum for conservatarian Eugene Volokh and his conservatarian friends.

  5. June 15, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    How anyone could come to the conclusion that a man who resents his children profitting from his financial support of them is in any way fit to be a custodial parent is beyond me.

    Besides, isn’t “her time and his money” the general conservative view of the ideal family structure (mother stays home with the kids, father works, sees them much less, and is therefore the center of attention when he does)?

  6. Richard Aubrey
    June 15, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Thomas. Well, you apparently don’t like the messenger.

    What does that have to do with the extra work somebody did that a reporter didn’t do?

  7. Thomas
    June 15, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Nothing. You mentioned Volokh. I expressed an opinion.

  8. jah
    June 15, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I read that article in CNN and thought it was very wrongly done.

  9. matttbastard
    June 15, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    Not to defend CNN, but this was actually an AP wire report. Regardless, your overall point still stands.

  10. r4d20
    June 15, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    which of course involve … an outsized sense of being wronged by the very existence of divorce (see the comment above amounting to, “how dare the bitch leave me”)

    He could be like my uncle who found out, after 20+ years of marriage, that his wife had never loved him and only agreed to marry him because the guy she “really loved” left her for another woman a year earlier . She went out with him on the rebound, stayed together because it was easy and he was a nice guy who took her places and made her feel good, and she accepted his proposal because she believed that he was “objectively” a good guy who could provide a good life for her – but she never “loved” him.

    Of course, she didnt tell him any of this (til later). He got told “I love you” for 20 years until she came home with divorce papers and was told “I hate you. Looking at you makes me sick”. Sure enough, she went after his rights to see his children. Since then things settled down and she admitted to my cousins that, after 20+ years in a marriage to a man she didn’t love, she just snapped and lashed out at him over the way her life had turned out. He hadn’t really done anything wrong at all – it really was all her and her need to put blame on someone other than herself until , with time, she was able to understand her own emotions. Part of that, however, involved admitting that she had done my uncle wrong – not by divorcing him per se, but by lying to him for twenty years and THEN not just divorcing him but trying to pin the blame for the divorce on him too.

    I have no idea of this other guy is like my uncle, but this kind of story is MUCH more common than the sterotypical “bad husband/wife” who really deserves no sympathy and “deserve” what they get. But,of course, being a real story, this violates all the plot-lines that activists love. There is no ”bad man” who deserved what he got, nor a “scheming bitch” – no “good guy” and no “bad guy”. No, like most real-life stories its just a bunch of people making choices and then having to live with them and their regrets. The only wrong that was done was the way one party, who made her own bad choices in life, decided to lash out at the person they had lied to for decades and “punish” them for her own mistakes.

  11. zuzu
    June 15, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    You seem to miss the part where the MRA talking head is defending a guy who shot a judge and stabbed his estranged wife.

    You also seem to miss the part where this is not a run-of-the-mill divorce litigant speaking about the fairness or unfairness of the judge who’s been shot, but a men’s rights activist who wants to deny the existence of domestic violence and shows signs of wanting to control his ex-wife after the divorce.

    The vast, vast majority of divorcing couples with kids work through their anger and do what’s best for their kids. There are some people who undoubtedly get screwed over. And then there are people like this, who want to pass presumptive joint custody laws so they don’t have to pay child support, regardless of what’s best for the child. They also see no problem with someone who stabbed his wife shooting the judge handling his divorce. Something tells me the custody fight didn’t go his way because he exhibited violent tendencies — the kind that signaled that he’d do something like stab his wife and shoot the judge.

  12. June 16, 2006 at 2:38 am

    This reminds me of a ridiculous column I read when John Muhammed was finally caught. The columnist claimed that Muhammed’s story was a tragedy of the family court system. You see, since John Muhammed lost custody of his kids, he went on a killing spree. Nevermind that he was accused of abusing the mother of his children. Nevermind that he, briefly, kidnapped one of his kids. His propensity for abuse and kidnapping wasn’t a sign that he might become a cold-blooded killer. The family courts turned him into one.

  13. ginmar
    June 16, 2006 at 7:15 am

    You know, it’s funny how MRAs always think murder is a good idea, a natural response to frustration. They’re ‘distraught’ you know.

  14. nik
    June 16, 2006 at 8:36 am

    I agree with you on 99.9% of this, but what’s the justification for the complaint about attempts to control ex-wives through the children?

    Naturally after divorce ex-wives independence and the rights of husbands to father their children clash. I realise it can be easy for feminists to see any limitations placed upon women by men as patriarchal control, but I don’t really have a problem with it in this instance. If you want to be independent of a man, then don’t go and have his child. It’s really that simple. I can’t see why women’s independence trumps fathers rights to parent their children.

  15. zuzu
    June 16, 2006 at 9:04 am

    agree with you on 99.9% of this, but what’s the justification for the complaint about attempts to control ex-wives through the children?

    You haven’t encountered many MRAs in comments sections, have you?

  16. Chicklet
    June 16, 2006 at 9:29 am

    If it’s the dads that are so hosed in terms of custody/visitation, why do we keep hearing about how the mothers’ standard of living goes down after a divorce?

  17. June 16, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    The fact Mack (allegedly) stabbed his wife to death and shot Judge Weller shortly thereafter proves beyond any doubt at all Mack was unfit to have custody of his daughter.

    Note he didn’t run off with his daughter, which tells me he really didn’t care about her or any of his other kids.

    Mack also had a nasty first divorce.

    Let’s face it: These crimes were most likely premeditated. The guy is worth close to $10 million and could afford to pay Charla $10 grand a month. He also could well have stashed some of his money in different locations.

    I’ll be surprised if he is ever found alive.

    People need to quit making excuses for this jerk, including attacking the judge in this case.

  18. r4d20
    June 16, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    I didnt think I needed to point out that I find the murder of an ex-wife and shooting of a judge to be completely unjustified. I wasn’t talking about this guy, who is obviously unfit to be a father, at all. I was simply responding to the attempt to read the mind of another man from a few statements – a process which usually says more about the mind of the reader than the readee.

    You’re comment about “how dare the bitch leave me” seemed to me like a pretty blanket statement implying that men who feel wronged over being divorced are all domineering jerks who feel angry in the way an owner of a runaway slave might. I thought this was pretty unfair since there are a lot of legitmate reasons a person might be embittered over being divorced that DON’T involve a master-slave mentality.

    My problem with the MRAs is that they tend overplay the stereotype of the “evil bitch” to make every mother who moves away with her kids, or asks for more child support, as some sort of gold-digger or vindicitve harpy. However, I dont think its right to copy that behavior and stereotype men as “control freaks” because they are upset at an ex-wife who divorced them. Less stereotyping would be better all around.

  19. r4d20
    June 16, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    “The guy is worth close to $10 million and could afford to pay Charla $10 grand a month.”

    Wealth is not everything. What are his debts? What does he owe his creditors every month?

    Sadly, Its not unknown for some men to even lie to their wives about their income while they take out huge debts to cover appearances until, eventually, they have monthly bills larger than some peoples yearly incomes. Buying into the stupid-mans idea of “masculinity” they want to be a provider and are too ashamed to say “we cant afford” something his family wants – of course, its really more about his ego than his family. Regardless, when divorce comes the wife asks for child support based on her view of the finances and, if she gets it, he finds himself with massive debts and a bill that does not reflect his true financial situation.

    Dont get me wrong – in such cases the man is the architect of his own ruin, but it does explain why some apprently rich men complain about their support. Its not always a lie but rather because his has intentionally cultivated a deceptive appearance.

  20. zuzu
    June 16, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    Look, the guy I’m talking about said this:

    “One day you can wake up and say, ‘he’s a jerk, I’m going to divorce him, take his money and his kids,’ “said Garret Idle, a Reno father who is actively involved in Nevadans for Equal Parenting.

    That sounds pretty much like “how dare the bitch leave me.”

    Moreover, how many times do I have to say that my problem with this story was that the reporter did not mention that the guy they’re getting quotes from about the fairness of the judge is part of an organization that has been actively trying to get custody laws changed to suit divorcing fathers rather than the needs of the child, who have worked to undermine domestic violence victims’ advocates in the Reno courts, who have espoused views much like those I have described (and organize to influence legislation so that those attitudes can be enshrined in law), and on and on?

    I understand that people who are divorcing have legitimate beefs and sometimes are just lashing out — I worked in a matrimonal-law office, fer crap’s sake. But that is not my issue here.

  21. June 18, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    I hope it is allright if I post a comment here.
    The man in question deserves no sympathy. However a normally fit father who is providing reasonable support desrves to see his kids. And often that is not the case if he does not have custody.

  22. NEP
    June 18, 2006 at 4:40 pm


    Garret Idle does not represent nor does he speak for NEP. His views, however hateful are his own.

  23. June 19, 2006 at 9:15 am

    Funny how he shot another woman, too, in shooting the judge but she’s getting no mention at all. If he hadn’t shot a judge, this case would be just a local woman-murder, buried in the back pages after three days.

  24. June 20, 2006 at 3:48 am

    it’s a minor point, but i think that his email address (yourhousemygoal@…) is related to the fact that he’s a realtor.

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