On The Case With Paula Zahn: Disappointed but not shocked

I was interviewed for tonight’s new episode of On The Case. The episode is called Evidence of Deception. I must say, I am disappointed by the dishonesty and disingenuousness shown, but not surprised. There were several factual errors that were probably not errors, but production decisions. The “District Attorney” shown was Richard Bowen, who was not the DA at the time of the trial, but an assistant DA. The District Attorney was a guy named John Young, who has since been mercifully voted out. They left out a number of important points, which I will address in a future piece. They also left out Dr. Joe Edd Morris completely, even though he was instrumental in setting my client up to be victimized by a specialist in hypnosis named Steve Rhodes. Rhodes is billed as “the human lie detector.” One hardly knows how to respond to a guy who professes he can always tell when someone is lying. More on that when I am less angry and more rested.

Long story short, they left out almost all of the long interview they did with me. All but about ten or fifteen seconds, skipping the main points for lesser points. What I had to say did not fit their meme, and I could sense the frustration of the producer when I wouldn’t say what they wanted me to say.

I may do a professionally produced video, or several, and start posting some stuff on YouTube or Vimeo. I have a friend who owns a small production company and creates TV commercials and will talk with him about it. I’m still trying to set up my site, so I have a full plate.

Watch this spot. I am not done yet.

Comments and ideas welcome. Also suggestions for dealing with this kind of media hit job.

About Chuck Stanley

Dr. Charlton (Chuck) Stanley is a board certified forensic psychologist, with interests in aviation psychology, peace officer selection and training, ethics and communication skills.
This entry was posted in Hypocrisy, Law Enforcement, Media, Psychology. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to On The Case With Paula Zahn: Disappointed but not shocked

  1. Blouise says:


    Been there.

  2. pete says:

    O S

    i watched it earlier but must have missed you. You must have been on while I was lying on the floor twitching with my eyes rolled back in my head from the constant random image switching.

  3. bigfatmike says:

    ” One hardly knows how to respond to a guy who professes he can always tell when someone is lying. ”

    Ummmm… quack, fraud, charlatan?

  4. Joy of Fishes says:

    Link? Minute mark would be appreciated to. Dont want to have to be on the floor twitching.

    My suggestion is to tell the story as you know it.

  5. theatre goon says:

    Oh, come on now, how can you possibly say there’s not a human lie-detector out there???

    I’ve seen that as a major point in at least two different television dramas (and one pretty good show on SyFy) — it’s gotta be true!

  6. Elaine M. says:


    Must say I was disappointed that they included so little of what you had to say in your interview. They had an ax to grind…I guess. I wonder how many other victims have gone to jail because of the “human lie detector.” Maybe you could find another HLD to interrogate Rhodes.

  7. Bob, Esq. says:

    Sounds interesting. Where can I find out about the case? And should I bother trying to find the interview on line or just stick to the subsequent commentary?

  8. As for the time mark. I did not keep track, but they put my part at the very end, and it almost went by so fast it was like driving through D’Lo, MS. Lay on the floor rolling your eyes and you miss it.

    They will have multiple reruns. I discovered you can get the channel streaming free at this link.

    TG, I have a funny story about people who claim they can’t be fooled. Take to long to tell here, I am not fully awake and haven’t had my coffee. I will relate that later. I’ll send you the story backchannel. You could use it for a skit by the Cap’n, then I could use it in telling the story.

  9. Mike Spindell says:


    As I wrote you last night I taped it and will watch tonight. As far as the misquoting and cutting out much of their interview with you I’m not surprised. There were two times in my life back in the 60’s when I did an extensive interview for the media. The first was for The Village Voice on a welfare strike by clients. I was interviewed for an hour and a half. They quoted me extensively but attributed it to someone else in the article. They did quote me for a short statement but put my name down as “Mark Stindle”. The second time was for CBS News Radio and they used a few sound bites edited to make the opposite point I was making. Those were my last brushes with notoriety and they came more than forty years ago, but were instructive nonetheless.

    In your case it seems they sucked you in with good faith on your part, but you didn’t follow their plan and so much wound up on the cutting room floor. After I watch it, I look forward to your further clarification of what I was seeing.

  10. Po says:

    Charlton, what a bio! It is official, I wanna be you when I grown up! Where can I find examples of your drawings? As an architect and contractor, who is thinking of engineering school, I am sure to find inspiration in them.

  11. Po,
    All those drawings back in the day are probably either still classified or were shredded when the Titan II silos were all decommissioned. There is one silo left that is now open to tourists. I watched a video of it and told somebody that everything was so familiar, I could probably find my way around it in the dark. I recently acquired a drafting table and got all my old stuff out of its storage box out in the workshop. My Dietzgen slide rule is in its leather belt holster in the dining room curio cabinet.

    Whenever somebody asked me what I did, I told them we were building fifteen story basements.

  12. Annie says:

    To answer your question about how many people had gone to jail for Rhodes’ technique, here is one for sure who was wrongfully convicted…http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2002-01-25/news/0201250071_1_confession-juvenile-illinois-appellate-court

  13. Elaine M. says:


    Thanks so much for that link!

  14. Mike Spindell says:

    “What I had to say did not fit their meme, and I could sense the frustration of the producer when I wouldn’t say what they wanted me to say.”


    Watched it last night and you were correct that your position did not fit their meme. Their meme was that Stephanie was guilty and trying to “weasel” out of her confession to save herself. They also gave the impression that her sentence of twenty years was a miscarriage of justice, which on its face is ridiculous. What they showed of her “confession” if accepted, clearly makes this case Manslaughter rather than murder. Such a term, for a first time offender, would not at all be out of line and in fact could be called harsh. You will note that the last say on the program came from the victim’s sister expressing outrage that Stephanie “got off” so lightly. This was clearly intentional on the part of the show’s creators. Back to the “confession”.

    In general the history of confessions in this country is a checkered one. Annie pointed out one where Rhodes was directly involved that illustrates the problem. From the perspective of the public, who only get their information from the inadequate and sensation-seeking news media, if one admits guilt and signs a confession put in front of them the case is closed and the person is always guilty. Left out of the public perspective is the methodology by which police extract confessions. Many of us simply cannot stand up to 18 hour grillings, done by teams of police who are allowed to threaten, cajole and lie to the exhausted defendant. In most instances people are unaware that they are allowed to say nothing, leave, or request an attorney unless they are actually charged with the crime and arrested. Those interrogated become exhausted by the constant badgering and become frightened by lies of what could potentially happen to them if they don’t cooperate. The police often pretend affinity and concern that lasts only until the defendant signs on the dotted line.

    Add to this mix someone like Steve Rhodes and things get even more problematic. As the show put it he is trained in neuro-liguistic programming which is a technique that can be used as a hypnotic tool. One of the things Rhodes said in the program that struck me was that after he called in the officers having pronounced Stephanie guilty to them using his “human lie detector” sense, his express purpose was then to coerce a confession out of her. He admitted that he would ask her a question and then purposely interrupt her answer to keep her from finishing. this produced a sense of frustration and exhaustion in her. The interrogation then becomes an ordeal with the person being interrogated only wanting to do anything to get it over. This alone produces a state closely related to a hypnotic state. Add to that someone with training like Rhodes and after awhile the “interogee” has lost the ability to think clearly and has the desire to please their interrogators just to end the ordeal. In effect they have been hypnotized into confessing against their best interests.

    The “confession” and conviction took the pressure off of the police and D.A. since from the show it seems that panic had set in at the school and a solution was needed to quickly wrap things up.
    Our system of “justice” must be looked at more closely since it is clearly broken on so many levels. The nature of Zahn’s program in this instance wasn’t one of enlightenment, or even explanation, but merely one of sensationalism and condemnation. This was evident in Paula’s last interrogation of Stephanie, which was clearly hostile to her and grandstanding for an audience by now conditioned to look at law enforcement in draconian terms. I’m looking forward to more from you on this case and what you found there.

  15. Annie says:

    Bravo..Bravo..Bravo..you wrapped it up in a nutshell!

  16. Mike,
    Thanks for the expert analysis. That is exactly what happened. At the end I was challenged on the fact she “confessed” and how could I ignore that fact. I did explain it, and point out the number of false confessions discovered already. I told them (briefly) of Dr. Saul Kassin’s findings and his contact information (same stuff I put in that piece on RiL). I told them to give him a call. He would be glad to talk to them. Obviously, that was not what they wanted. I suspect they expected me to weasel and become defensive with some far-out unbelievable story. I didn’t so what I said did not make it into the story.

    The point I emphasized was that “programming” (as in NLP) and “confession” did not belong in the same sentence. Not what fit the story so that was left out too.

  17. Mike Spindell says:


    I remember what you wrote about Kassin’s findings and also in my other readings I’ve come to be very dubious about confessions of guilt. Also we watch a lot of shows like Paula’s here and I have seen so many that deal with confessions and techniques used by the police, that the whole subject makes me angry. Confessions, rather than investigations, seem to have come to the forefront of police work since the techniques are easier to master. This probably has always been true. This man Rhodes no doubt enjoys his fame, such as it is, more than being dedicated to finding out the truth. That we have a system where one can rise politically by being perceived as tough on crime, the system is broken and justice becomes a hit and miss affair.

  18. pete says:

    Back in the late 70’s I spent the better part of a day handcuffed to a chair wearing only a pair of shorts and if you don’t know your rights they can really twist you up. Add to that a big build up about a “human lie detector” and a confession from an innocent person is not that hard to believe.

    I think Paula is trying to get some of the Nancy Grace crowd.

  19. D Mccoy says:

    I’ve suspected this show was a fake for a long time. Ms Zahn says basically the same stuff on each show. It’s a safe bet you will hear “My heart sank when ….” or when she asks “How shocked were you when you discovered the dead body?” Ms Zahn seems so unsympathetic to the people she is interviewing. A hard show to watch.

  20. William T says:

    I don’t believe Paula Z even does the face to face interviews. They never show her in the same shot as the interviewee . It almost makes me laugh!

    • She doesn’t. Her producer asks the questions. Paula only does the reverse angle shots. Easy work if you can get it.

      The whole show is strictly show business. I discovered they make up their own “facts” and spin them to suit the meme they are promoting.

  21. Dave Crockett says:

    Yeah, not to mention that it’s super obvious with their bizarre curtained backdrop that she’s not even the one doing the questioning. They just splice it in later. Watched her tonight telling this cop, with tears in her eyes, that she could feel his pain. Hmm

    • Yup. Her producer does the “interview.” She kept trying to put words in my mouth. I realized too late they had an agenda, and finding the truth was not part of that agenda.

      What saved me is the fact I have testified in several hundred murder trials, not to mention all the civil cases I worked on. Forty years experience dealing with leading questions and not saying anything the questioner can spin later made that part of the interview easier for me, but it was still stressful and hard work to stay focused. The downside is the fact that only few seconds of my lengthy interview made it to final production.

      Furthermore, they did not include ANY of my explanations as to why a defendant will confess to crimes they did not commit. All the while, the viewing audience does not realize they are being fed propaganda of the cheapest kind. Maybe better reportage than Fox “news,” but not by much.

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