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From the Field

"Here we go again"
By Phil Shuman
April 29, 2002

The rumors started about noon.. but we'd heard them before. "Robert Blake is going to be arrested today.” Yet this time they didn't die down. We went to Hidden Hills, we waited, the unmarked detective cars were there, we called Harland Braun, he claimed nothing was happening, the choppers were know the rest of the story.

We all watched as Blake was led out of the house in cuffs, driven down the freeway, and unloaded at Parker Center. It's all a familiar routine now. Exciting for those covering it, tragic for those involved, interesting for viewers, at least initially. What's particularly frustrating for us though, even as we understand it, is the lack of information from police. They hold the press conference, they make the announcement, they control the room, yet when we try to ask anything beyond the basic questions, they give us nothing. "Why now after 11 months? "Well this is when the case was wrapped up." "When did you have enough to arrest Blake?" "Well, the case has just came together." "Was there one big break?" "No good detective work and things just went our way." You get the idea. Ask anything else and you risk stepping over the line. Being too pushy. In fact, on day two at another press conference with minimal information released, I had one senior police official tell me , when I was asking about the two men Blake allegedly solicited, ''Don't keep asking those questions” ... I politely inquired as to what questions he'd like me to ask, but he'd already gone inside the sanctuary or Parker Center.

Now, before you get all worked up, I understand that police have to keep the details of the case confidential, especially before the suspect is even charged and arraigned, but I think it might work better if they just made a brief statement or two, took no questions, and called it a day. It might defuse the cliched 'media circus,' it might make us look even more frantic, if that's possible.

As for all the comparisons to OJ.. let's calm down. There will be nothing like that again. Robert Blake is no OJ - he's an old actor accused of killing a woman who, to put it mildly, doesn't generate much sympathy. The real victim here is the little girl, who's going to grow up without a mother and probably without a father. Further comparisons? The police are afraid of saying the wrong thing and looking bad or, heaven forbid, having another Mark Fuhrman pop up to embarrass them all. The numbers of press might be there, but no way is the public going to be into this, and if there aren't ratings we'll move on. The District Attorney will take the high road, as usual, talking teamwork and passion , without the dramatics of a Marcia Clark or Chris Darden. There will thankfully be no Johnnie Cochran sideshow and probably no Dominick Dunne.. no -- OJ was a once in a lifetime experience.. and it was more than enough for all us.

About the Author

Phil Shuman is a veteran news reporter working for KCOP TV in Los Angeles. He
also has a talk show on LA's KABC Radio. His credits include reporting for