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America's Most Wanted Hypocrite

John Walsh is known to millions of television viewers as the host of America's Most Wanted on FOX TV. The program features lurid reenactments of crimes and ask for viewer assistance in locating people that police claim have committed the crime in question. Over the years political fugitives such as Betty Dukes (a leftist radical accused of bombing the Senate to protest the US invasion of Grenada), former Black Panthers and others have been targeted by the program. Walsh bristles with righteous indignation against the suspects fingered by police as he seeks to turn America into a nation of police stool pigeons.

Often featured on his program are prisoners who have escaped from prison or jail. On several occasions these prisoners have been recaptured even though they had led law abiding lives, built families and otherwise redeemed themselves. But Walsh is quick to point out that none of this matters, the important thing is what the person did in the past, even if it was decades ago and that punishment is paramount.

Walsh became a national figure in 1981 when his six year old son Adam was abducted from a Sears department store in a Hollywood, Florida shopping mall. The nation was horrified when Adam's head was found floating in a canal, his body has never been recovered. Shortly after the disappearance Walsh and his wife Reve were on television pleading for his return. After their son's death was confirmed Walsh went on to host America's Most Wanted and founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as part of legislation the Walshes helped push through congress. In this new role Walsh excelled as a shill for law enforcement exploiting his personal tragedy as a road to riches and fame.

Adam's killer has never been found. On February 15, 1996, Florida judge Leroy Moe ordered the opening of the police file in Adam's slaying after four newspapers filed suit seeking access to the files. Both police and the Walshes bitterly opposed opening the files, claiming that the police's fruitless 15 year search for the killer would be jeopardized. The newspapers' attorney noted that it was laughable to claim that after fifteen years police would suddenly arrest a suspect if only they were given another week or two.

Once the more than 10,000 pages of police files were examined by the Palm Beach Post and Mobile Press Register, of Florida and Alabama respectively, Walsh's vehement opposition to opening the files became readily apparent. Jim Campbell, Adam's godfather, said in a sworn deposition in a civil suit that he had had a long-standing affair with Reve Walsh, unknown to her husband John during the two years he lived in the Walsh's home. He also stated that John and Reve were heavy users of cocaine and marijuana.

The Walshes sued Sears seeking money damages because Adam was abducted from the store. Sears attorneys produced evidence that Adam had been left in the store by himself by his mother for at least 90 minutes before he was abducted. Sears also deposed Campbell and obtained extensive evidence about the Walshes' drug use. The Walshes were unsuccessful in sealing Campbell's deposition in the Sears suit. Eventually the Walshes dismissed their suit against Sears rather than have the embarrassing details of their extensive drug use presented in open court. Walsh, who was a hotel executive with ties to Bahamas casinos, clearly did not want news of his pot smoking and coke snorting to become public.

Given the fact that Walsh makes a living excoriating drug offenders on his program, his reticence to have his own drug use discussed is obvious. That Walsh was or still is a drug user is immaterial to me personally, what makes it relevant is that Walsh makes a living propagandizing against people accused of crimes when he himself has been breaking those same laws. What is interesting is that Walsh is clearly a prominent national media personality and this story has been totally ignored by the national media. It was only reported locally by the four newspapers who filed suit to open the police files, the court file in the Sears suit does not appear to have been examined. A Lexis search shows it has not been repeated elsewhere. If Walsh were to acknowledge his illegal drug use and say that he has been able to reform himself (assuming of course that he no longer uses pot or cocaine) and turn his life around that would imply that the people he excoriates on his program can do the same. Instead he hypocritically insists that people are incapable of change and need to be punished. But who knows, maybe he's speaking from personal experience on this. If hypocrisy were a crime then Walsh would be America's Most Wanted Hypocrite.

Source: Palm Beach Post, February 12, 15, 16 and 17, 1996

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