The Untold Truth Of Jeanine Pirro

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Throughout her four decades in the public eye, Jeanine Ferris Pirro has had two long and intertwined career paths: making headlines as a prosecutor and analyzing them as a pundit. This combination prepared her for the role for which she is best known, the firecracker host of Justice with Judge Jeanine on FOX News. Before making waves in Washington, D.C., she rocked the criminal justice boat as a hard-nosed and groundbreaking prosecutor in New York City.

Despite roadblocks in her career and personal life, Pirro has continued to unapologetically seek the limelight, and it has been shining on her at FOX News since her show debuted in 2011. With pop culture nods from People's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 1997, to being lampooned on Saturday Night Live for her over-the-top support of Donald Trump, Pirro has captured the attention of Americans, if not their hearts.

So, is Pirro simply fame-hungry, or just "a force to be reckoned with," as City & State New York described her? Let's check the receipts that date all the way back to the 1970s, when her trailblazing truly began. This is the untold truth of Jeanine Pirro.

Jeanine Pirro championed victims of domestic violence

Long before FOX News even existed, Jeanine Pirro gained notoriety as an assistant district attorney, starting in 1975. She also started one of the first domestic-violence prosecution bureaus in the country in 1978. She told The New York Times, "I found early on that victims [of domestic violence] were forgotten, that children were ignored and that battered women were considered inconsequential." The Domestic Violence Prosecution Program she oversaw was federally funded and enabled victims of domestic violence to pursue criminal charges against their abusers. The only option had previously been for law enforcement to refer domestic violence cases to family court.  

"We seek to photograph injuries, because that's evidence that something happened," Pirro told The New York Times, adding, "Hospital reports often are no help because the doctor asks the woman what happened, and, with her husband looking over her shoulder, she says, 'I fell down stairs.'" But, she said, the threat of criminal charges would be a deterrent for future abuse. "We can send out a letter for an interview and that may be effective. We use district attorney letterhead and say that 'a complaint has been made and if the allegations are true they represent a criminal offense." This approach enabled charges to be filed against many abusers who would have otherwise gone unpunished. So, was it successful? Pirro "won every felony case she tried," as of the 1995 profile. 

Donald Trump and Jeanine Pirro are old friends

Power is the currency of Washington, D.C., and access to government leaders creates power players. The higher the status of your friends, the more power you have — and as the saying goes: you can't make new old friends. That said, Donald Trump and Jeanine Pirro go way back, and their longtime friendship shows in their fierce, unyielding support of one another.

According to The New York Times, the relationship goes back to local New York politics in the 1990s. Trump held a fundraiser at his Westchester County Seven Springs estate to support Pirro's reelection campaign for district attorney in 1996. The initial relationship was between Trump and Pirro's husband, Albert J. Pirro, Jr., a prominent attorney who was later jailed "for tax evasion," but Trump and Ms. Pirro remained in touch as her career took several turns. He described her to New York magazine as "sexy as hell," which the appearance-obsessed real-estate developer-turned-politician considers a high compliment. Pirro attended Trump's 2005 wedding to Melania. Prior to that, Trump donated handsomely to Pirro's first statewide campaign, and the connections go on and on. 

As Trump's presidential run gained steam, Pirro was an early vocal supporter, which made her a favorite among Trump's voting base. On Pirro's sudden popularity, fellow Trump loyalist and New York bigwig Rudolph Giuliani told The New York Times, "She was in the right place at the right time with the right approach, and she's taken advantage of it." 

Jeanine Pirro has good political instincts

Jeanine Pirro knows how to read public sentiment, and Donald Trump's political rise was no exception. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told The New York Times, "Judge Pirro has understood the MAGA movement since day one." Since boarding the Trump Train, Pirro has ridden a wave of political popularity on the opposite end of the Republican political spectrum from where she started. 

Early in her career, Pirro was considered a moderate Republican and was even supported by many Democrats. In 1995, she told The New York Times she did not like being mislabeled a conservative, revealing she is pro-choice, supports environmental regulations, and views workplace diversity as important. Four years later, The New York Times Magazine still described her policy positions as more Democratic than Republican, pointing to her role as a stalwart advocate for legislation involving hate crimes, as well as laws allowing parents access to the criminal record of anyone they are considering hiring for child care. Pirro was elected to judgeship in 1990, but ironically, didn't like it as much as being an active player in the political process. Still, the moniker "Judge Jeanine" has followed her throughout her career, and she definitely has the bonafides to back it up.

Her ex-husband was a GOP power player

The New York Times once referred to Jeanine and Albert J. Pirro (above left) as "perhaps the county's number one power couple." But this legal powerhouse pair flew too close to the sun, and the relationship wouldn't last.

According to The New York Times, Albert tried to write off the purchase of $1.2 million in lavish items as business expenses, including a Ferrari and a Mercedes. Unfortunately, Albert's standing as the most powerful real-estate lawyer in Westchester County vanished when he was indicted and convicted on 34 charges of tax fraud and tax evasion(via The New York Times). Jeanine, then a Westchester County's district attorney with her eyes on then-Senator Hillary Clinton's seat, was scandalized out of contention thanks to Albert's downfall. Greenwich Time reported Albert served 11 months of his 29-month sentence.

The Pirros' scandal-plagued marriage was profiled by New York magazine in 2006 amid reports of Albert's suspected infidelity (he fathered a child with another woman during their marriage) and Jeanine's (possibly illegal) pursuit of surveillance to catch him cheating. They separated in 2007, and finalized their divorce in 2013, but apparently remained close enough for Jeanine to procure an extremely last-minute pardon for Albert from outgoing president, Donald Trump. According to sources speaking with CNN, "The order came as a total surprise and had aides scrambling to make it happen before the noon ET deadline, when Trump's term came to an end." Talk about friends in high places, right? 

Jeanine Pirro gained national fame during the O.J. Simpson trial

Jeanine Pirro's legal experience with domestic violence cases put her on the national stage just one year into her tenure as Westchester County District Attorney (via The New York Times). As a pundit during O.J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial, she was seen on Geraldo, Court TV, Nightline, and other shows seeking legal commentary on what became known as "the trial of the century." 

While Pirro was popular at home, she did receive some blowback from colleagues for spending too much time seeking the limelight and too little time attending to her role as a prosecutor. Pirro responded to the criticism, telling The New York Times, "I can move at lightning speed. If I have done five Geraldos on O.J. Simpson in six months at nine o'clock at night, what's the problem?" Republican leaders in New York agreed. Her newfound fame as a pundit led her to her selection to "head the criminal justice section of [Governor George Pataki's] transition team." She was also approached about running for statewide office. 

2005 and 2006 were not great years for Jeanine Pirro's political career

While there was speculation in The New York Times that Jeanine Pirro's political career was over when her husband was convicted of fraud, she had other plans. Her goal in 2005 was to win the Republican nomination for New York's United States Senate seat and challenge incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election. Unfortunately for Pirro, that plan went awry before it even got off the starting block.

Pirro's primary campaign kickoff announcement at New York City's Waldorf Astoria was a disaster. She got lost in the middle of her speech and paused for 32 seconds, asking aides for "page ten" of her speech before continuing. Things went from bad to worse for her primary campaign, and according to Newsweek, she allegedly abandoned a $600k debt to vendors along with her campaign that remained unpaid as of the 2019 report.

In an another unconventional political move, Pirro announced the end of one campaign and the beginning of another at the same time. She said she would instead run for the New York Attorney General seat, a job that felt more in line with her professional background. The Republican party nominated her for the office in 2006, but she ultimately lost the general election to Andrew Cuomo, making both 2005 and 2006 a one-two punch of professional busts for Pirro.

Jeanine Pirro pioneered cybercrime laws to protect children

After tackling domestic violence from a criminal justice standpoint, Jeanine Pirro saw an emerging threat to children. An expert on sex crimes, she was one of the first leaders to recognize how dangerous cyberspace could be for kids (via The New Yorker). In 1994, she handled a misdemeanor case involving a 51-year-old man in Seattle who had "transparently, if euphemistically, sexual" conversations over the internet with a 14-year-old girl in Westchester County, N.Y. Once she realized "a computer is the best weapons [sic] a pedophile can have," Pirro championed the cause to change cybercrime laws in New York, making "indecent communications with a minor on a computer network" a felony.

Pirro's campaign for the legislation succeeded, and states around the country followed suit. Congress then passed the Communications Decency Act the following year to protect minors online. Pirro told The New Yorker, "In 1978, I was constantly trying to justify my involvement in domestic violence and child abuse. You think I need to do that today? I don't know a politician who isn't ready to jump on that bandwagon. Times change. But that's what being on the cutting edge is all about."

What happened to Jeanine Pirro's daytime talk show?

Despite Jeanine Pirro's political career taking hits thanks to her husband's scandals and her own missteps, she still had ane unmistakable star quality. As such, she landed a daytime courtroom show, Judge Jeanine Pirro, which premiered on the CW in 2008. On the series, a slightly-tamed Pirro appeared behind the television judge's bench, but she was not so mellow that she betrayed her professional reputation as a touch cookie. The show won the 2011 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program

On one episode, Pirro waxed philosophical to a guest, saying (via The New York Times), "Let me tell you something. Life really is a series of ups and downs. I know. I've made the journey many times. And you don't look back and say what would've or could've or should've. You look forward." And she took her own advice. The CW show was canceled in 2011 due to poor ratings, despite having won the Emmy, but that cancellation opened the door for her longtime relationship with Fox News. In addition to her successful Justice with Judge Jeanine venture, Pirro had a very short-lived extracurricular television blip at FOX in 2017. Deadline reported that her new FOX show, You The Jury, would be canceled after just two episodes due to low ratings. However, her FOX News vehicle, Justice with Judge Jeanine, is still going strong, as of this writing, and her popularity with Trump supporters continues to grow.

It pays to be Jeanine Pirro

Jeanine Pirro was among Westchester County's wealthy and fabulous crowd before her then-husband was indicted and convicted of hiding assets and writing off lavish expenditures as business expenses. Thankfully, it seems she emerged from those tough times relatively financially unscathed, likely due to her own immense earning power.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Pirro is worth $12 million, as of this writing, thanks in no small part to her reported  $3 million per year FOX News salary. As of an April 2019 profile in The New York TimesJustice with Judge Jeanine had more than 2 million viewers during its 9 pm Saturday time slotViewership like that clearly classifies her as an influencer, and her social media accounts prove it. Pirro has over 2.1 million Twitter followers, 834k Instagram followers and counting, and nearly 2.5 million Facebook followers. That kind of a following can translate into big-dollar ventures, and it seems to have done just that with her latest literary offering. Pirro's 2018 book, Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, was a #1 New York Times bestseller. She has authored a total of nine books, five nonfiction titles and two crime novels, and we doubt her 2018 title will be her last.

Jeanine Pirro dealt with a secret cancer battle

In a 2017 Justice with Judge Jeanine segment about American exports of uranium, Pirro shared something she had managed to keep private for five years. She expressed concern that the Moly-99 isotopes used in nuclear medicine as a diagnostic tool for heart disease and cancer were being produced in other countries, using America's exported uranium, then sold back to the United States "at a profit." After declaring her displeasure with democrats she accused of orchestrating the so-called scandal, she also revealed, "In 2012, I was diagnosed with cancer. I didn't talk about it. You didn't know about it. I just did my show every weekend. And, in the end, as the chemotherapy treatments progressed, I was on air talking to you without my eyebrows, eyelashes, and wearing a wig." 

In her 2018 book, Liars, Leakers, and Liberals, Pirro again used her cancer battle as the backdrop for her concern over America's importation of isotopes made with its exported uranium. She wrote, "It is uranium that saved my life and countless others. But do we have enough uranium?"

It seems Pirro's fears are valid, as the Society of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging notes that America's two main sources of Moly-99 are Canada and the Netherlands, adding, "U.S. patients and the U.S. health care system are in need of a reliable supply of [Moly-99]. The best way to ensure a reliable supply ... is to encourage the development of new technology and domestic production facilities."

FOX News suspended Jeanine Pirro

FOX News anchors are no strangers to lobbing personal insults and inflammatory rhetoric at ideological foes, but Jeanine Pirro went a bit too far even for FOX in 2019 when she questioned Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's patriotism due to her Muslim religious beliefs (via YouTube). "Think about it," Pirro said (via CNN), "Omar wears a hijab. ... Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?" Outrage over her comment was so severe that FOX released the following rare statement (via The Hollywood Reporter): "We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro's comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar. They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly."

Pirro's show did not appear on the FOX lineup the following Saturday, per The New York Times, and Donald Trump was not happy about it. The President expressed public support for his old friend, tweeting (in part), "Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well." Pirro was reportedly back on the air two weeks later, and she never apologized for her comments about Omar.

Jeanine Pirro seemed almost destined to dominate the courtroom

As an attorney from the Baby-Boomer generation, Jeanine Pirro likely shares a career inspiration with tens of thousands of other lawyers. She decided to pursue a career in law after becoming a fan of the TV legal drama Perry Mason. She told The Hill that the titular fictional defense attorney was her childhood hero, but qualified that by stating, "But I realized prosecution was where my heart was." In her 2003 memoir, To Punish and Protect: One DA's Fight Against a System That Coddles Criminals, Pirro revealed she knew she wanted to be an attorney by the time she was six years old. Former district attorney Bruce Crew told New York magazine Pirro essentially "demanded" he allow her to volunteer at the D.A.'s office when she was just 15. "She was extraordinarily articulate and not at all shy," Crew said, adding, "She followed me to depositions and such. I never encountered anyone with her tenacity and ambition. Never."

Pirro does, however, seem to have one professional soft spot. In spite of his apparent involvement in over 3,500 lawsuits, Pirro's old friend Donald Trump never loses her support. Lisa DePaulo, Pirro's former literary colleague who sued her for breach of contract amid a failed collaboration, told The New York Times, "If Trump told her tomorrow that Satan was a swell fellow, she'd be on her show saying Satan's a swell fellow. They take care of each other. She will do whatever she thinks helps."