If you had any remaining doubts about Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Scott Israel being a smug, arrogant douchebag get rid of them. In fact, after watching him get mauled by Jake Tapper during his interview on State of the Union, you can add out of touch and utterly craven F***stick to the bill of indictment.
To be clear, I don’t think that Tapper has suddenly become a Second Amendment fan or even particularly friendly to conservatives, but I do think that CNN saw their little hate-fest Wednesday night start to become a public relations nightmare with multiple allegations that they ensured pro-gun-rights students were limited to short questions while the anti-gun-rights representatives were able to present lengthy speeches. And I expect Tapper was feeling a bit used after finding out that the good sheriff knew during the hate-fest that his officers were on scene and refused to respond while Tapper let him berate NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch and clearly imply that the NRA was to blame.
Some highlights. My apologies but CNN is later than usual–or so it seems to me–in releasing a transcript. I’m working with what I can find.
.@browardsheriff: “If ifs & buts were candy & nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.”
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 25, 2018
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZito) February 25, 2018
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) February 25, 2018
Israel acknowledges that he knew that his deputy had peed himself rather than responding while he was at the CNN hate-fest:
With the CNN anchor noting Israel had spent quite a bit of time with victims’ families and survivors before and during that town hall, he asked Israel if he knew about Peterson’s actions that evening.
“It was spoken about during that earlier during that day,” the sheriff said. “I’m not on a timeline for TV or any news show. We need to get it right. We need to get it accurate. We’re talking about peoples’ lives. We’re talking a community. We need to corroborate and verify and once we did, the next day and I looked at the tape and I was 100% certain that it happened the way I was told about the investigators initially told about.”
Israel went on to state that he had investigators check videos and once he knew about any wrong actions taken by his deputies his orders were to have detectives inform the families. Tapper shot back that the families were at the town hall, wondering aloud why Israel didn’t just disclose to them then.
Israel said the following:
“I couldn’t disclose it then because there was no corroboration, Jake. There was no confirmation. We needed to dot I’s and cross T’s and I would not disclose it to a family at a town hall. Not every family was there. One of the families, Mr. Pollack had gone to Washington, D.C. That’s not the way you do things over a news camera. You do it individually. You meet privately with families. You have compassion. You don’t do it at a public forum.”
I think that is a dodge from two points of view. First, the performance of the Broward Sheriff’s deputies during the shooting has zero to do with the families. They are public employees and their boss is an elected official. There is no logical reason that this information should be withheld from the public and given only to grieving parents…not even the parents of the survivors. While we need to respect the grief of these families, that grief does not impart extra privileges, or as we saw Wednesday, extra wisdom or judgment. The second part of the dodge reflects directly on the lacking character of Sheriff Israel. He knew his deputies could have intervened. If he didn’t want to own that in public then anyone with a vestigial sense of morality and self-respect would not have blamed everyone one else.
This might very well serve as a summary for the entire interview:
Transcript via, of all places, Raw Story:
“Are you really not taking any responsibility for the multiple red flags that were brought to the attention of the Broward Sheriff’s Office about this shooter before this incident, whether it was people near him, close to him calling the police?” an incredulous Tapper asked.
“Jake, Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about,” Israel protested. “I exercised my due diligence. I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency…”
“Amazing leadership?” a clearly stunned Tapper interrupted.
“Yes, Jake. there’s a lot of things we’ve done throughout this. You don’t measure a person’s leadership by a deputy not going in, these deputies received the training they needed,” Israel shot back.
“Maybe you measure somebody’s leadership by whether or not they protect the community,” Tapper lectured. “You’ve listed 23 incidents before the shooting involving the shooter and still nothing was done to keep guns out of his hands, to make sure that the school was protected, to make sure you were keeping an eye on him. I don’t understand how you can sit there and claim amazing leadership.”
“Jake, on 16 of those cases our deputies did everything right, our deputies have done amazing things,” the sheriff countered. “The five years I’ve been sheriff, we’ve taken the Broward Sheriff’s Office to a new level. I’ve worked with some of the bravest people I’ve ever met. One person at this point, one person didn’t do what he should have done and it’s horrific.”
After Israel insisted that he will not resign, despite calls for him to step down from Florida lawmakers, Tapper asked, “Do you think that if the Broward Sheriff’s Office had done things differently this shooting might not have happened?”
“Well, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts,” Israel began as an appalled Tapper cut him off with, “I don’t know what that means.”
And he goes on to say
“One person didn’t do what he should have done,” Israel said. “It’s horrific. The victims here, the families, I pray for them every night. It makes me sick to my stomach that we had a deputy that didn’t go in because I know if I was there, if I was on the wall, I would have been the first in along with so many other people.
…presumably covered by four of his deputies who weren’t going anywhere near gunshots.
This is the full interview.