Liberal Talk Show Host Bernie Ward Admits to Distribution of Child Pornography

Bernie Ward, San Francisco’s leading liberal radio host, has admitted to distribution of child pornography by e-mail. He will now face at least five years in prison and as much as ten years.

Ward, 57, is a former Roman Catholic priest who became known as the “Lion of the Left.”

In a hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, Ward (who had previously denied the allegations) pleaded to a single charge of distribution, involving “exchanging an image of a minor engaged in sexually explicit activity” in December 2004. However, the plea agreement references between 15 and 150 pornographic images via e-mail.

His attorneys are now seeking a five year term. Only nine months would be taken off for good time. The government wants nine months. But both are better than the 20 years that he was looking at. Transcripts of Ward’s calls between December 2004 and January 2005 reveal fantasies related to children. For those transcripts, click here. They notably lack any connection to research that he originally claimed in defense.

For the full story, click here.

9 thoughts on “Liberal Talk Show Host Bernie Ward Admits to Distribution of Child Pornography”

  1. Dear mespo727272:

    > I read your entire epistle and I am left with
    > the same thought as when I started.

    Is that supposed to be a reflection on me — that your thinking does not change?

    You make me very sad. You have had nothing to add but to take me personally on behalf of your esteemed Professor, and to sling your ad-hominem mud at me, ignoring the several substantive points that I made, of which many people seem unaware, or are perhaps unwilling to think about. Instead, you took a juvenile cheap shot of your own at me and my “epistle”, and did not venture to respond to the issues that I had raised; no, instead, by way of ignoring the substance of what I had had to say, you proffered the astoundingly naïve assertion that a person who changes his or her plea to Guilty must simply actually be guilty, or why else would they do it? — WOW.

    Just to clear up your mistaken notion that this is somehow about Turley (or you): Except for the easily, *eminently* demonstrable falsity of your Professor’s statement that Mr. Ward had previously *denied* his brief activity — in fact, check it out for yourself, he had only insisted that his motive and purpose had been pure (which his detractors can pooh-pooh, but it’s the truth) — and also Prof. Turley’s irrelevant-but-sensationalistic observation that Mr. Ward had, 30 years ago, briefly been a Catholic priest, I consider this whole matter likely a simple oversight by your beloved but overbooked-and-fallible Professor Turley — not some kind of dastardly act of collusion; so, Easy There, settle down.

    And now, even at this late date, it still matters a great deal that both you and your esteemed Professor understand the truth — that is, assuming either of you cares about the judgments that they pass on a person who never had a chance under an abomination of a law that makes a person Guilty until proven Innocent.

    YES, even though you in carefree fashion went skipping across the surface of it, as though it were not possible (!!), there was in fact *overwhelming* financial pressure on Bernie Ward, due to (hello…) the *astronomical* cost of even *preparing* for a respectable criminal defense; financial pressure greatly worsened by the discharge of Mr. Ward from his job as soon as he was accused — over the objections of his boss and the radio station’s top management. Going over their heads and their judgment, and for no apparent reason resolutely insisting on firing him, was the mega-company that had, with uncanny timing, purchased KGO, a station which had belonged to ABC from that network’s inception — just three months before the indictment. This one very odd fact changed the entire course of events for Bernie Ward.

    (Equally devastating psychological pressure, by the way, was brought to bear by the draconian de facto house arrest to which Ward was for seven long months subjected — extreme and frankly, *inexplicable* — about which more below.)

    Before you go shouting “conspiracy theory”, consider the case of the long-term project to destroy former Governor Don Siegelman of Alabama, well documented, by Sixty Minutes and others, to have been conducted by none other than the Justice Department, and specifically by close associates of Karl Rove. (If you’re not familiar with it, go and learn about it: There’s a reason, after all, that we have laws against Conspiracy on the books. The Siegelman story and cases, plural, are key to understanding the real context of DOJ’s odd behavior in the Ward case, as reported below.) But either you have eyes to see, and the desire to know plain truth, or you do not.

    The Rovian hunt for Bernie Ward and that for Don Siegelman have a lot in common; except that the Rovians may have gotten luckier with Mr. Ward. Rove is credibly reputed to have employed the “pedophile” tactic as early as 1994, on behalf of his client, Harold See, in the race to unseat then-incumbent Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mark Kennedy. Joshua Green reports in The Atlantic, November 2004 [“Karl Rove in a Corner”,; search for the word “pedophile”] that a former Rove staffer had told him they had used the University of Alabama Law School as a means of disseminating all over the state — to create the impression that it was common knowledge — a totally false rumor that Judge Kennedy was a pedophile.

    How do the two cases, Ward and Siegelman, *really* differ? Ward’s having run out of money, mainly, and for Siegelman, the amenability to Due Process afforded by the class of charges falsely leveled against the good Governor, which left him, after years of sheer misery, at least with some semblance of possibility for public redress. — That is, he was accused of a crime which, as most crimes on the books, does not de facto render you Guilty as soon as you are charged. The federal child pornography law at issue DOES this latter. It is a VERY bad law, probably an unconstitutional one for various reasons, not the least being that as a strict liability statute where the normal “mens rea” requirement is thrown out the window, a person’s true intent is considered irrelevant: It is thereby rendered a very dangerous tool in the hands of anyone with a grudge — let alone the hands of dark-hearted federal-government political operatives (*still* in the government, quietly fighting President Obama) with a score to settle and a political threat to remove, *and* who do not mind distorting the evidence they will set before not just the public, but a federal judge. ==>I can only wish for *you* whatever kind of experience it may take for you to appreciate what that really means for the person who is charged. (A word — to the wise — would be sufficient.)

    Instead of sorting out real issues, you resorted right off the bat to name-calling, and in short order you made this an issue of all the good that Professor Turley has done in his illustrious career. I make no objection to citing a person’s record of achievements; “credit where credit is due”, I say, and surely Professor Turley deserves such credit. It ought likewise to have been noted that Bernie Ward also has very much to his own credit: Besides having served, to his obvious peril, as an unparalleled whistleblower in the western U.S. against a renegade Executive Branch, Bernie Ward had also used his bully pulpit to raise MILLIONS of dollars — perhaps a nation-wide record amount for one individual — which have been used by low-overhead humanitarian organizations to feed, clothe, house and re-employ literally THOUSANDS of homeless Americans. Can either you or your Professor lay claim to any achievement as magnificent as *that* — giving thousands of people their lives back? Yet when the same lawless Executive Branch he had ratted out came and got him, under their own merciless sentencing guidelines it was excluded from consideration even for the judge who sentenced him. Tell me, why should Professor Turley’s achievements have carried more weight than that, simply when I disagreed with him?

    Would that you cared about other human beings besides your Professor; would that either one of you had bothered to get to know Bernie Ward before having publicly, internationally pronounced judgment on him, by recourse to a few grasped straws of illusory Appearances, appearances whipped up by this morally-eviscerated, still-politicized and still today actively politically *purging* DOJ, which as a matter of record has criminally prosecuted its masters’ identified Enemies (among which *unquestionably* they number him), and presented to us via the collaboration of a few other disgruntled, very small-minded people whose toes he had stepped on — people who in today’s also sadly compromised, largely amoral America, were willing, even eager, to see him go to prison to satisfy their lust for revenge. This they were willing to do, even though all he had ever done to any of *them* was to disagree with them, or to have publicly called them out.

    This latter — the public calling out of wrongdoing — he had certainly done exceptionally well vis-à-vis the past Administration; that cannot be emphasized enough, if you honestly wish to understand, and not merely to protect Professor Turley (who will be just fine without your help, I assure you). The man really had done a *lot* to raise people’s awareness, not just in California but on the whole West Coast — with unusually detailed accuracy, I might add — about the *longer* list of the Administration’s documented, outrageous, and even-now-enduring crimes, crimes which had nonetheless largely stayed under the radar in wide-distribution media. KGO was ABC’s flagship station on the Coast, a 50,000 watt boomer with a powerful reach: As far south as L.A. and Mexico; as far north as Washington State, Oregon, and even British Columbia & Alaska; and as far inland as the Rocky Mountain States. You have to understand the coverage and sheer popularity of KGO, *and* to have been intimate with the brilliant political content of Mr. Ward’s programs, to understand what a threat he truly posed to these unprecedented crooks.

    The Rove-/Gonzales-corrupted DOJ waited three mysteriously-long years (a bizarre delay that should jump out immediately — especially if you know the Siegelman case), three long years of having left Bernie Ward with his family — with his *children* — It was only *then* that the Rove-/Gonzales-legacy Political Enforcement DOJ chose, just as the political primary campaign season began in earnest, suddenly to go after him with these suspiciously stale but still heinous-sounding and hysteria-raising charges, which they had been holding in their back pocket all that time. Mr. Ward had been allowed to stay with his *children*, and *they* had quite willingly stayed with *him*, for THREE YEARS after DOJ “raided” him (finding *nothing* on *five* household computers); and THEN for more than seven additional months his kids stayed by his side, while he sat under indictment and virtual house arrest — couldn’t even go outside, literally not even into his own back yard, without the Court’s permission. (How long could *you* live like that, without having the courage of your convictions — the knowledge that you were morally innocent — to keep you going, in such a darkened state of alienation and intimidation?) His children stayed with him, right up till they burst out sobbing at his sentencing; and still they clung to their beloved father, as he was hauled away to more than seven years of prison. Why? — For allegedly having been a *danger* to children, including, it was implied by tainted accounts Jonathan Turley should have known better than to take seriously, his *own*. ==>Those children clung to him and defended him through the entire ordeal, and they defend him tenaciously still: They know him better than most children get to know their fathers, and they know he is no pedophile. Nevertheless, DOJ — who sabotaged Mr Ward’s hopes for a fair trial by facilitating propagation of this falsehood, that he was a danger to his children — allowed him to *stay* with them for approaching FOUR YEARS

    If these events do not have a strange and foul smell to you, you must be suffering from a very bad cold. If they do not not speak volumes to you, then I don’t know, perhaps you cannot be reached.

    Do you actually believe that the Rove/Gonzales Frankenstein DOJ, infamously politicized by them, are, after having pursued prosecutions against their mentors’ clear Nixon-style political “Enemies”, to be the ones who are given the benefit of the doubt? Again I encourage you — but only if you want to know the truth — to examine that solitary tip of one very ominous iceberg, the Siegelman case: Do so, and you will just be *beginning* to understand what it really means to say that DOJ has been (and still is, to date) *politicized*. I know Professor Turley will agree, this latter deeply disturbing development has altered the entire criminal justice enterprise in America. ==>I do not have anything against the good professor personally, you need to understand; I simply believe that despite his acknowledged high status as Professor of Constitutional Law, and despite his many contributions to the ongoing effort at righting government wrongs, in this one instance he has indisputably missed the mark — probably in not knowing enough about Bernie Ward; and, it would appear to me, in having failed to apply what he does know, about both the present failed state of DOJ and the ease with which a morally-innocent person may be swallowed up by this horribly powerful hysteria-born piece of bad legislation. He has given the matter too short shrift, and failed to apply himself fully and conscientiously to even some of the most *salient* facts of the curious case of Bernie Ward. Nevertheless, he has pronounced judgment anyway, along with the crowd of lesser thinkers who (No skin off *their* nose…) have yielded to a lazy and hysterical Rovian Consensus. And that is a wrong he has committed, a wrong that has lasting and devastating results.

    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” And with good men like Jon Turley having done nothing but gone along with the crowd, an important, and obviously for the Bush Administration *intolerable*, advocate for justice against their eight years of lawlessness, a singularly important voice once heard every night at 10:00 up and down the West Coast of North America, was discredited and silenced by “a DOJ we all can trust”, just as the election year he was already talking about had begun to dawn. But hey, never mind the devastated Wards; life goes on.

    Again, I would not wish Bernie Ward’s experience on my worst enemy (small ‘e’ — I do not keep a formal list, which will in due course become apparent *not* to have been the case of the past Administration or the DOJ they fundamentally altered and morally deformed, and left in place all over the country, carrying out the agenda of lawlessness); but I do wish for you whatever kind of experience it takes for you to understand not only why I insist that both you and Prof. Turley have been in terrible error about this case, but why it *matters* — it matters more than your pride, and it matters more than just for the family and friends of whistleblower and philanthropist and genuine decent man Bernie Ward. Indeed, it matters — it *still* matters — for us all.

  2. ALevy:

    I read your entire epistle and I am left with the same thought as when I started. Namely, that he pled guilty despite the multitude of exonerating and mitigating circumstances that you carefully chronicled. How does one explain that? Alford considerations? Cost? Fear of prosecution? Or maybe, guilt.

    You juvenile shots at Professor Turley for stating his opinion are really beneath contempt. His record of achievement stands for itself for anyone interested in looking.

  3. Did Jonathan Turley *really* write this story? – I ask, because if he did, I’m very disappointed in his really very surprising lack of integrity, of due diligence, and frankly, of brains. (I mean, he didn’t even get straight the simple fact that Ward had NEVER denied handling these images, he had *only* claimed that his alleged purpose for handling them — in order to conduct research for a book on moral hypocrisy among the Religious Right [as he stated his intent to do several years ago, on-air…]. –>All of which leads me to believe someone is just using Turley’s name and image in a confusing or misleading way. I sure as hell hope so, for Turley’s sake.) Prior to this, I had been positively impressed by Turley’s professional style on brief MSNBC appearances; but if this really is his work, he has now very disappointingly shown himself to be not the circumspect and disinterested professional analyst he represents himself to be, but instead, he turns out rather to be yet *another* in a growing list of self-promoting salacious sensationalists, like the local San Francisco “investigative reporters”, who smeared Ward BUT *GOOD* in a shared act of patent personal revenge, Dan Noyes and Matier & Ross. (Yeah guys, that evens the score: Take an on-air scolding from a local radio personality for peddling lies; so naturally, the only thing to do is to turn around, dump a one-sided, falsified piece of evidence on a credulous public [Hey, the average IQ is only 100, you know…], and absolutely SMEAR the man in such a way as to ruin *permanently* his entire life and to *destroy* his family as well. What absolute monsters! Especially Noyes).

    In Noyes’ and Matier & Ross’ cases, both parties were ostensibly “getting even” with Ward (although that’s hardly an apt description) for the latter’s having caught them in the act of catering to the rich Daddies of visiting Yalies, whose sons had stood in danger of expulsion from Yale for under-age drinking and brawling while officially representing the school. Ward, who exposed these local charlatans’ impossibly-“coincidental” coordination, publishing several “synchronized” falsehoods involving an altercation between a visiting Yale men’s choir and some local young people, had smelled a rat in the first place — “Yale boys GOOD, local boys BAD” — and resented the needless use of innuendo against local Catholics as (naturally?) “homophobic” (apparently these “reporters” thought that someone would buy the claim that in 2007, people in San Francisco, just because they were Catholic, would think it clever to taunt a men’s choir as “obviously gay” (omg, as if that could be a scandal in San Francisco anyway…), simply because they sang…? — True genius on the part of these “investigative reporters”, or whoever they were taking orders from.

    Because the Yale boys were caught drinking underage when police were called in — after the inebriated Yalies had begun throwing punches at a post-concert party — as local police had reportedly privately related to REAL investigative reporter, Bernie Ward — and were now in danger of a humiliating expulsion from their families’ elite institution, *someone* who had been able both to per$uade, *and* to coordinate between, Noyes on the one hand, and Matier & Ross on the other, had concocted a uniform “cover story” casting aspersions on local “ruffian” twenty-somethings who allegedly had (as if significant, or for that matter even dependably true…) “attended local Catholic high schools” some number of years in the past. This supposedly made the local youths more likely to have shouted homophobic slurs at the Yale men (Because they could *sing…?* *Really*, that’s the *best* you could come up with…?) — REALLY dumb, and totally unsubstantiated.

    The coordinated smear against local Catholics was called out immediately by Ward — a Catholic himself, as everyone is eager to point out right away these days — on his program. Then some months later, when this selectively-edited “chat transcript”, created under the supervision of the redneck Oakdale PD (greater Modesto, home of was very calculatingly released “under a Freedom of Information Act Request” by Noyes (As if he needed to file under FOIA! What small-minded drama… Oh and this part kills me — Noyes represented his having obtained this instrumental smear-document — designed as it was to dump on the public, so as to guarantee Ward would be tried in the Press and NEVER have a crack at a FAIR trial, and be forced to cop a plea instead — Noyes depicts himself as a crackerjack sleuth — as though it had been a real *coup* on his part, that he had been so clever as to have thought to obtain this tainted, biased, — COME ON, PEOPLE! *Designed*-for-*prosecution* document… — “on a hunch”, was what he said about it, like it takes some kind of *genius* to realize there must be a police report…), then of course, as designed, the “report” repulses its readers to which it has been inappropriately and prematurely distributed — Although *still* it contained no surprises for anyone with half a brain who knows *anything* Bernie Ward — i.e., about the “big kid” approach to trying to infiltrate that Ward would have resorted to the very outset of something new to him, or redneck police departments and the sleazy way they “fix” evidence to make it look the absolute worst possible for the defendant.

    One thing is an indisputable fact: None of the reported activity fits anything *like* the profile of a sexual predator or child molester. The whole thing only went on for a couple of weeks, more than 3½ years ago. Then, when the Feds raided his house in January ’05, turned the place upside down and you bet, questioned the hell out of his kids, confiscated and thoroughly searched all the computers in the house — something like *five* — they came up snake eyes. They wound up ACCEPTING his “research” explanation because it was, after all, the best explanation available. Then Bernie went back to living with his kids — intentionally sickening chat transcript notwithstanding — and being left alone by DOJ — FOR THREE YEARS. Then, after he spends three more years exposing & excoriating the Bush Administration, just at the outset of Primary Season in the most major election year to come along in a generation — THEN all the sudden this case becomes urgent for the fully politicized Rove/Gonzales-legacy DOJ. They waited THREE WHOLE YEARS, years spent in continued family life, to turn around at a politically opportune time and pull out of mothballs this *lame*, *flimsy* as hell, “evidence” for a “case” to destroy a man who’d been blasting them for seven years, all up & down the west coast of North America. They leave his kids with him in spite of these (obviously WORTHLESS) horrible-sounding transcripts, and then ONLY AFTER THREE YEARS they drag him away in chains.

    Okay, he did some dumb stuff. He broke the letter of the law. But the overwhelming evidence, even based just on the DOJ’s own behavior is, this whole thing is a FRAUD. But it’s the kind of fraud that *sticks* in a country where we have fallen from being a nation of laws to a nation of men, where real, *known* active, dangerous, child molesting predators are PASSED OVER, and Bernie Ward is selectively prosecuted (which, in case you don’t know it, is ILLEGAL). Bernie screwed up — He’ll be the first to tell you so… — But NO WAY does he deserve what’s happening to him, unless you don’t like his political or religious views, or you think fat people or people you dont like, for *whatever* arbitrary reason, should be thrown in prison. He pled Not Guilty at the outset because he knew he was morally innocent. But then these Monsters kept him under constant pressure — Under conditions of house arrest so extreme that he had to ask for special PERMISSION just to go outside into his own back yard! — Can you imagine how *you* would feel…? — and after seven months of Psychological Torture and being promised that Intentions Be Damned (and they were *explicit* about that…), he’d spend the rest of his life in prison, … Yeah, finally they broke him and he copped a plea. DUH..


    Ward NEVER DENIED the allegations, as this story misreports. He merely claimed that his motives in sharing the photos had not been prurient, nor involved any predation on his part — i.e., the photos were all already in existence and in circulation, and were not used in any attempt to meet with children — and that he had not created any of the images himself, or traded them for money. If Jonathan Turley, who clearly does not know Bernie Ward (just as Debbie Nathan did not…) and his fairly predictable, initially very clumsy “big *kid*” kind of style he’s very likely to adopt when he tries to break into a subculture he knows nothing about — and further, if Turley (if he is in fact the author of this story….) thinks that an alleged-or-even-REAL Oakdale “police report”, created with chat transcripts made under their direction and subject to their editing, with the help of this so-called, *alleged*-to-exist “SexFairy” “dominatrix”, who by the time of the “documented” communication was already working *for* Oakdale PD, constitutes anything even remotely *like* credible “evidence”, then Mr. George Washington University Law School should maybe try his hand at manual labor, because clearly he’s no good with the Law. (I hope, in fact, that Turley did not write this crappy story, but that someone is instead just creating the false appearance that Turley is involved.)


  4. Its very sad thing about Bernie. Many of his listeners in the Bay area are back on the heels over this news. They merely assumed his claim of being targeted for his outspoken views had some merit. It seems now, that they were claims of convenience and other fantasy.

    This behavior doesn’t have any particular pedigree and even in the privacy of one’s computer communications and private thoughts – its disturbing. On the other hand – even Bernie deserves a defense – and deserves an opportunity to seek help. I believe, there are a lot people that are currently disappointed by him, that won’t shun him if he seeks their help. Despite the fact that this is difficult to understand – people do need help – and we’re obligated or at least I feel obligated, to help when they ask.

  5. I agree Mespo,

    My doctor told me that one of the best doctors he knew (as far as patient outcomes) was one of the worst persons he had ever met! Go figure! It is important to stay away from personal attacks and address the argument, no matter who’s making it.


  6. Jill:

    I would hope that persons of every stripe would condemn these actions without reference to ideology. Extrapolating from the specific to the general in the absence of pattern, makes one the victim of the logical fallacy of “hasty generalization.” Likewise, it is also faulty reasoning to “poison the well” by arguing that because a person commits an immoral act, therefore everything he says is wrong or immoral–though I concede his credibility is sorely damaged. Despite my words, I am sure that an avalanche of invective directed at liberals is in the offing. I shall batten down the hatches.

  7. Engaging in this behavior is reprehensible and should result in punishment. I am completely unconcerned with his political affiliation. I am concerned only with his behavior. So niblet and others, please do not think liberals do not care about child abuse. That belief is simply untrue.

Comments are closed.