Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends

It’s official. The Washington-area sniper story is now a full-fledged circus.

All the ingredients are in place:

1—A phony witness leads police and media on a wild goose chase, telling a tall tale of a cream colored van with a non-functioning taillight, driven by an olive-skinned man and carrying a shooter with an AK-74 – none of which existed.

2—Fox News sends its top hack, Mr. Showbiz himself, Geraldo Rivera, to do a standup at the Fredricksburg, Virginia, shooting. Afterwards, Geraldo retires to do what he does best, autograph butts at the local Hooters, then jets off to Bali where the body count is higher.

3—The various media outlets give the shooter names: The Single-Shot Sniper (redundancy, redundancy), the Beltway Sniper, etc.

4—All the networks develop splashy graphics to headline their stories.

5—Routine press conferences become “breaking news.”

6—Instant experts appear like locusts on the wind, citing their expertise as “former counterterrorism experts” and offering varying theories on local, network and cable news shows. An FBI source of ours says half these experts were forced to retire because they weren’t that good at their jobs.

7—Gun control freaks come out of the woodwork, citing the shootings as justification for taking all the guns in America and melting them into a giant memorial to Michael Moore.

8—Newspaper columnists, running out of ideas, call up Washington-based journalists and ask them if they are afraid to pump their own gas.

9—Politicians issue reams of press releases and introduce new bills to curtail sale of firearms and ballistic fingerprinting of those already in existence.

10—When the media runs shot of facts, they find some fruitcake to claim it’s all a big al Qaeda plot.

All this hoopla only cheapens the sad facts of this case: a madman with a rifle systematically and cold-bloodedly kills nine people and wounds two other over a two-week period.

Cops can’t do their job because they must take time out of their investigation to deal with the ever growing rat pack of reporters who dog every move, demand every detail of a sensitive investigation.

The defense department decides to deploy sophisticated recon planes to help in the hunt, but NBC news tells us the planes won’t be here for several days, telling the sniper he still have a window of opportunity to increase his body count.

At each shooting, camera crews rush to interview witnesses before police get a chance to talk to them, contaminating a crime scene that already yields too few clues.

It’s time to back off and let the cops do their job. It’s time to stop glorifying this nutcase and feeding his ego by claiming he is part of some vast foreign plot to destroy the United States.

Change the channel. This is murder. It ain’t entertainment.