NOWATA, Oklahoma & WASHINGTON, D.C.
Bob Ming was an aging, black civil rights lawyer, and Ken Zacher was a young, white high school basketball coach. They met each other for the first and last time on a Detroit stage in 1972 at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. They didn’t know it at the time, but each of them, for similar reasons, was about to lose everything.
A dozen years earlier, Ming had solidified his reputation as one of the country’s top legal minds. He kept Martin Luther King Jr. out of prison before an all white, all male Alabama jury — a stunning outcome, King later said, because “defeat seemed certain, and we in the freedom struggle braced ourselves for the inevitable.”
He helped prepare, brief or argue many of the NAACP’s most important Supreme Court cases, including Brown v. Board of Education. But after his convictions on a misdemeanor tax charge in 1970 — political payback from the Nixon administration, supporters said — Ming was fighting to keep his law license and preparing to report to federal prison.
Zacher, meanwhile, had come to talk to the NAACP because he wanted to tell a story: He worked in a plains city in northeastern Oklahoma, where in five seasons his teams won 91 out of 137 games. By age 31, his colleagues elected him head of the state coaches’ association.
And yet, at his best, the school fired him.
It fired him because, until Zacher arrived in tiny Nowata, team captains and homecoming queens were always white. Zacher’s team captain was black.
If you saw them together on that afternoon on July 7, 1972, inside Detroit’s Cobo Center, if you even noticed them, you’d figure they had nothing in common. But actually they weren’t so different. They had conviction in common. Maybe stubbornness, too. They shared a certainty of purpose that stirred others to the detriment of themselves, leading both men, soon before their lives would suddenly end, to a stage one day in Detroit.
Even in death, people were expected to keep their place in Nowata.
It was a mostly white Southern city of 4,000 in 1963 when George Washington Hubbard, a maintenance man for the town bank, died at 74. His son, Army Lt. Col. Paul W. Hubbard, tried to bury him in the municipal cemetery. But the town refused because the graveyard was for whites. In frustration, he wrote to Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Even the Justice Department couldn’t help. City politicians, including one who was black, refused to desegregate the cemetery. The Hubbards gave up and buried their father in Kansas. “We didn’t want a long legal fight,” Hubbard told a reporter. “I’m going to leave that to posterity.”
Four years later, posterity arrived in an unlikely form: Ken Zacher, a youthful and deeply superstitious basketball coach from western Oklahoma.
He’d never played with or coached blacks. He grew up where there just weren’t many around, and if there were, they were encouraged to move along.
“Once he was in Nowata and realized — we just had never seen segregation before. Right away, both of us were in shock. We were stunned,” said Lynda Coley, who was Zacher’s wife at the time. “And it was not OK. It was not OK to me, and it was not OK to Ken.”
Soon after Zacher started coaching in 1967, he insisted black and white players room together on road trips and sit next to each other on bus rides. He commissioned a mural of a black arm and white arm joined in a high handshake painted atop the entrance to the team locker room, and players slapped it each time they came and went. Zacher even joined the Tulsa branch of the NAACP.
He invited black players and their families into his home, offering them his car when they needed it.
After schools integrated in the early 1960s, Nowata’s sports teams had two captains. One was always white to escort the white homecoming queen. Zacher eliminated the second captain.
Zacher’s rules, hardly noticed by the players, led to uncomfortable discussions about race in homes.
One player, Robert Sprague, returned from an overnight trip to a tournament in Oklahoma City to find his mother waiting for him with questions. Sprague, who would go on to become one of the most successful high school coaches in the state, had roomed with a black player named Kerry Caliman, a future Nowata valedictorian and Naval Academy graduate.
“That was no big deal to me,” Sprague recalled. “My mom starts asking me a bunch of questions and proceeds to tell me I’m not going to room with Kerry.” Sprague talked back to his mother. “I was a good kid, but I said, ‘No, you’re wrong. There’s not one thing wrong with Kerry.’”
The easy explanation for Zacher’s ambition is that he cared about his players, black and white. But Zacher also had never witnessed the sharp disparities of life between white and black neighborhoods. He’d never had to see racism day after day until it became invisible — a fact — like it was for Nowata.
“He was going to change it,” Coley said.
The first of three federal investigations in the life of W. Robert Ming Jr. began on March 6, 1944. As an Army private, drafted at age 33, he was suspected of disloyalty.
He and five other black soldiers had bought tickets to see a play at the theater on the Camp Lee military base in Virginia, but Ming demanded his money back when he was told blacks had to sit on a side aisle.
“It’s the law in Virginia,” an officer explained.
“Virginia law doesn’t apply on a military base, sir,” Ming shot back.
By then, he was a member in good standing of the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. He’d graduated third in his class from the University of Chicago law school, taught law at Howard University and worked alongside Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP’s legal defense fund in Washington.
After he got his ticket refund, Ming thought little of the incident. As discrimination went, the episode was hardly unusual. During holiday leave, he and other black soldiers waited hours for a train on a crowded platform as empty, northbound whites-only cars rattled by.
But a few months later, Ming found himself being interrogated by Army investigators. The charge was that by demanding his money back, he could have spread “dissatisfaction” among the troops, according to the investigative file, which would remain sealed for decades.
“Did you realize that the action you took might be utilized as a starting point by enemy agents to stir up animosity?” the interrogator asked.
“No, sir,” Ming replied. “I am definitely of the opinion that the mere existence of the seating arrangement furnished the enemy agents with all the fuel they needed.”
The investigator also asked Ming about his role in a well-publicized picket in 1940 outside a downtown Washington, D.C., theater. It was the world premier of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois. Blacks were barred from entering.
Protesters, including Ming, had held signs that read “Negros Citizens May not See This Picture on the Great Emancipator” and “Where Freedom is a Joke and Democracy is a Sham.” But Ming didn’t just march. He’d researched the laws to ensure the protesters didn’t give the police any justification to intervene.
Three Supreme Court justices, cabinet secretaries and the star actor, Raymond Massey, ignored the demonstration, walked into the theater and watched a film about Lincoln that blacks weren’t allowed to see.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt crossed the picket line, too, but she regretted it. The next day, she wrote a newspaper column all but apologizing: “This occurrence in the nation’s capital was but a symbol of the fact that Lincoln’s plea for equality of citizenship and for freedom, has never been quite accepted in our nation.”
Months later, someone firebombed a home owned by a black school teacher, Edna Holland, who moved into a white neighborhood in Washington. The attacker left a note in her mailbox that read, “Negroes shall not live among us white people and destroy the value of our property. Better move quick. Not safe to wait for a second warning. Remember you are a negro. Keep your place. Just a hint.”
The case attracted virtually no press attention, but Ming pressed the FBI to investigate. Nobody was hurt, but there’s no indication in any of Ming’s old files that the FBI ever bothered to look into it. Ming kept a copy of that note for the rest of his life.
The Army detectives looking into Ming fanned out across Chicago and Washington, interviewing his friends and colleagues. The list of interviewees, 70 years later, reads like a who’s who of courtroom pioneers in the civil rights movement: Leon Ransom, William Hastie, Truman Gibson.
Hastie, a future appeals court judge who was then dean of Howard University’s law school, called Ming “one of the most brilliant and capable attorneys whom I have ever known.”
Indeed, as a freshman in 1923 at Englewood High School, which enrolled students regardless of race, Ming’s standardized test scores put him the top 2 percent of all high school students in the country, and far higher than any other student in his own school — black or white.
“He has shown the world that many of the charges made against the Race are absolutely false,” The Chicago Defender, the city’s black-owned newspaper, proudly reported.
Perhaps impressed by what investigators learned, the military not only cleared Ming, they accepted him as one of the first blacks into the Judge Advocate General program. In 1946, he left the Army as a captain.
Glenn Curtis Moore piloted 118 WWII combat missions, twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other medals, and once yanked a shard of his shattered canopy from his face while flying a P-47 Thunderbolt over Italy — then completed the mission.
He returned to the States a war hero. He raised a family and joined the Lion’s Club and a Methodist church. By 1971, he was superintendent for the tiny Nowata school district, where a school is now named in his honor.
But the pressures of combat had not prepared Moore for the task of managing his new basketball coach.
“He is a man of high moral character, works hard at his assignments and is a very capable teacher and coach and is respected by many of the students and fellow teachers,” Moore later wrote of Zacher.
“However, Mr. Zacher is so engrossed in providing a successful and winning basketball team that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for him to accept any decision or situation which he believes detracts from the importance of basketball in Nowata High School, his position as coach and his personal convictions.”
Zacher always seemed to get his way, even when Moore told him no.
“He didn’t like the power structure,” recalled Zacher’s assistant coach, Bob Knoll.
“There was one power structure and that was his, and he was going to run things his way.”
In 1969, Nowata qualified for the state tournament for the first time in school history. Moore rejected a request by two teachers — Charlotte Kincaide, who taught high school English and had a son on the team, and Zacher’s wife, Lynda, who taught third grade — to miss a day to go to the state tournament in Oklahoma City.
Zacher protested, but Moore held firm. The coach complained to the school board, which told Moore to back off.
Two months later, he went to the school board again when he found out he was making less money than the football coach. Moore never forgot the slights, but he was always careful in his dealings with Zacher. As long as the coach was winning, he was untouchable.
It wasn’t easy playing for Zacher, either. There were two practices a day, not including study sessions. Student assistants videotaped each practice and game, and they poured over the frames. His players had leather-bound books with plays, defenses, workout schedules and the team motto: H3, for hustle, hustle, hustle.
In old yearbook photos, Zacher appears rumpled. He wore the same suit for as long as his team kept winning. And he never washed it. During one losing streak, though, he bought a new suit. The next game, the team won and so Zacher began draining the family’s bank account on brand new suits for every game.
Entering the 1971-72 season, Zacher was expecting big things. Junior pivot man Warren Dennis was fast developing into one of the top talents in the state, capable of scoring 40 points a game. Third-year varsity player Rick Reid, an outside sharpshooter, was expected to be named captain.
Then, there was another senior, a quiet and unspectacular, yet scrappy and dependable role player named Dale Gilbert Martin, one of five blacks on the team.
The second Ming investigation began on Aug. 8, 1967, when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent an urgent message to special agents in Washington and Chicago.
The subject of the teletype: William Robert Ming Jr.
“White House has requested extremely rush investigation of Ming, who is being considered for presidential appointment,” Hoover wrote. “Position involved not indicated.”
President Lyndon Johnson personally requested Ming for a presidential appointment, though for what office isn’t clear in FBI files. A White House memo described Ming this way: “Attorney from Chicago — one of the most thoughtful students of the 14th Amendment in the country.”
Hoover called for only the most experienced agents to investigate and set a three-day deadline that “must be met without fail.”
By then, Ming had opened a private practice in Chicago, though he was widely known for his civil rights work.
He’d served on President Truman’s civil rights commission. He was the first black law professor at the University of Chicago, teaching constitutional law to, among others, future Attorney General Ramsey Clark and congressman Abner Mikva.
But the height of his legal fame came in 1960 on the legal team representing Martin Luther King Jr. on a felony perjury charge — the first such charge in a tax case in state history.
The state alleged he’d lied on his tax return, but Ming argued Alabama revenue officers used fraudulent techniques to target King because the governor wanted to put the civil rights leader in jail.
In closing arguments, Ming never mentioned the color of his client’s skin. Instead, he stacked the jury with business owners and warned them that the same fraudulent techniques used against King could be used against them, too. “If you men in the jury go home and add up your bank deposits and want the state to consider that your total income, which is taxable, then you will convict the defendant,” he said.
Within hours, the jury acquitted.
One “reluctantly admiring” courtroom observer said of Ming, “Negro or not, he is a master of the law,” according to a newspaper account. For years, the joke around Ming’s law office was that he convinced Alabamans they hated taxes more than they hated blacks.
King was deeply moved, calling the verdict a turning point in his life. His wife, Coretta Scott King, called it “a triumph of justice, a miracle that restored your faith in human good.”
The FBI investigation turned up many of the same praises the military heard a quarter century earlier. Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner told an agent that he’d known Ming for 25 years. “He’s above reproach,” the governor said.
But one former colleague — his name redacted in files later disclosed by the FBI — had concerns. He said Ming might have felt passed by compared to his former colleagues in the civil rights movement who had won judgeships and jobs at big law firms. “He’s probably a little disappointed with his life,” the source said.
“He said that as a lawyer, Ming had very few rivals but that as an administrator, he lacked the necessary ability, tact and judgment to resolve problems of public importance,” the FBI agent wrote.
Pressed, however, the source said he didn’t have any specific examples of what troubled him, but he refused to recommend Ming for any presidential appointment.
Sanford Kahn, a lawyer in Ming’s firm in 1966, said Ming came and went at unpredictable hours and left the administration of the firm to others. But there was no doubt about Ming’s intellect.
He said Ming once assigned him to write a brief for an income-tax case involving a prominent Chicago doctor. In the weeks leading up to the filing deadline, Kahn, who knew nothing about tax law, asked Ming again and again for help, but Ming blew him off.
Two days before the deadline, Ming asked to see the brief. Kahn hadn’t done a thing.
“He starts ranting and raving and says, ‘Give me everything, give me everything,’ and he grabs it all up and goes home. The next morning, the very next morning, he comes in with a huge, big brief. And says, ‘OK, this is done, it’s got to get to the Supreme Court by midnight.’”
One evening after a preseason practice, 22 players gathered in the Nowata High School locker room. They scrawled names on bits of paper, folded them up and turned the ballots over to Zacher.
The favorite for team captain was Rick Reid, a third-year varsity player and popular son of the town doctor. Zacher came out of his office and announced the results: By a surprise 15-7 vote, the captain was Dale Martin.
Martin was the son of the school custodian and an honors student. His first thought upon election was how the town would react to him escorting the white homecoming queen. Decades later, he recalled pulling Zacher aside after practice.
“What do you want to do? Do you want to go through with it?’” he asked.
“Dale,” Zacher replied. “Don’t worry about this.”
Privately, Zacher was excited.
“This is it, this is it,” he told his wife at home. “We’ve done it. Now, we’re really going to accomplish something here.”
A few days later, superintendent Moore called the captain and coach into his office.
“Nothing personal, Dale,” Moore said. “But I think we’ve got a problem. I just don’t think the town’s ready for it.”
Unknown to the team, Zacher and Moore already had a heated discussion a few days before the school year about the prospect of a black captain. The coach had just returned from a clinic on race relations at the University of Oklahoma. He complained to Moore about the lack of black captains and cheerleaders in Nowata. Moore suggested having the queen pick her own escort. When Zacher refused, neither pressed the issue, figuring Reid would be captain anyway.
Inside the superintendent’s office, Martin sensed that Moore expected a short conversation, that Martin would take the suggestion for what it really was — an order — nod yes, then walk on back to class.
“You know what, Mr. Moore? I’m going to stay the captain. I’m not stepping down. If she doesn’t want to do it, get somebody else.”
“Are you serious?” said Moore.
“We’re going to do it the way the coach wants to do it,” Martin said.
The homecoming queen quit. So did a runner-up. Zacher gave Moore a resignation letter; if Martin was removed from the ceremony, then he was quitting.
Moore sent Zacher’s resignation to the school board, but members agreed to let the coach handle the ceremony his way. A sophomore named Vicki Yirsa agreed to be homecoming queen. Unlike other years, there was no kiss. Yirsa said her parents didn’t care what color the captain was, nobody was going to kiss their daughter in public.
The controversy seemingly over, a new school board took power in the spring and held a second hearing to decide Zacher’s fate. New members wanted to revisit the issue. Some in town were still livid at the publicity that had been stirred up by the homecoming controversy. They blamed Zacher. Former basketball players returned to Nowata from college to support their old coach. There in the same gymnasium where fans used to cheer them, they were booed.
After eight hours of testimony, nearly four hours past midnight on April 3, 1972, the board voted not to renew Zacher’s contract.
In 1970, Ming was convicted of misdemeanor charges stemming from failure to file tax returns on time from 1963 to 1966. What infuriated his attorneys and supporters, though, was that Ming had already paid his tax debts by the time the criminal investigation began.
His case was strikingly similar to one brought around the same time against another prominent black Chicagoan, then-state representative Harold Washington. Washington received about a month in jail and went on to become Chicago’s mayor. The judge in his case chided the Justice Department for even bringing charges in the first place, saying such cases are handled administratively.
Ming, however, landed before the bench of the abrasive federal judge Julius Hoffman, notorious for ordering the courtroom shackling of a protester arrested during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Ming pleaded not guilty and argued his missed filings occurred in the years after his accountant died. Ming was convicted, and Hoffman sentenced him to four months on each count, stacking them so he would have to serve 16 months in prison.
Ming’s supporters bombarded the Nixon White House and U.S. Parole Board with letters, pleading for leniency. They came from former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Roy Wilkins, the NAACP president, and even Martin Luther King Sr., who said his son would not have been free to march in Selma and Washington without Ming’s help.
“All should remember that during this period, there was a concerted effort afoot by the state and local governments, backed by many public and private citizens, to thwart this fight for full freedom,” King Sr. wrote in a March 27, 1973, letter, three months after Ming reported to a prison in Sandstone, Minnesota. “And but for the legal brilliance, fearlessness and dedication of Bob Ming, the struggle may well have died aborning.”
Not long after Ming was incarcerated, George Shultz, a top White House director, put in a call to John Ehrlichman, counsel to President Nixon.
They talked briefly about a vacancy, but as Ehrlichman was about to go, Shultz said he had a few more things to discuss.
“I have a memo from Sam Pierce in the Treasury,” Shultz said, “about a Chicago lawyer named Ming who was found guilty of fraudulent behavior on his income tax.
“Apparently, he’s a brilliant black lawyer, and he’s guilty. He’s had a heart attack and he’s had all sorts of mitigating things, and there’s a fair amount of pressure for imposing a strong fine but not sending him to jail. And I gather that the President is the one who issues these pardons and that at Christmastime there may be some. So I’ve got a piece of paper on this, which I’ll leave with you—”
“No,” Ehrlichman interrupted. “John Dean processes those,” he said, referring to another Nixon lawyer.
There was a silence. There was nothing left to say. There would be no help from the White House.
Ming kept a yellow legal pad with him in prison, jotting down observations about his life as a federal prisoner. “Allergic to BS,” he wrote. “Inmate boasting: cars, women, money ideas.”
“Sorry story of 21-year old in jail since he was 10!”
He wrote home to his wife, Irvena, who worked as a truancy officer. With Ming facing the loss of his law license, the couple discussed selling their Ford Thunderbird for $500. Irvena, meanwhile, was anxious about the uncomfortable feeling that Ming had been experiencing in his arms and legs.
“I am trying very hard to keep my feet on the ground and not get too optimistic, but it is hard not to,” Irvena wrote to her husband. “I know how you must feel. Anyway, we’ll keep praying.”
A few months into his sentence, Ming collapsed unconscious in a prison shower. He was rushed from prison to a hospital in Duluth, Minnesota, where doctors found blood in his spinal fluid — suggesting a possible brain hemorrhage or spinal meningitis, according toThe Chicago Defender.
Ignored by most of the press, Ming’s health woes were covered extensively by theDefender, the same black-owned paper that had chronicled his remarkable test scores as a 12-year-old boy.
“Doctors Give Up, Atty Bob Ming clinging to life!” the headline on April 25, 1973, read.
He rallied for a few days, recognizing his wife and friends while watching the Watergate hearings from his hospital bed. But a week after his hospitalization, Ming struggled to breathe. Doctors performed an emergency tracheotomy. Ming had a heart attack and slipped back into unconsciousness.
He died two weeks later. His friend Louis Martin, a Defender columnist, couldn’t help but wonder if death was the price he paid for criticizing the Nixon administration.
“Did the order to proceed with the prosecution of Bob Ming for income tax law violations, which led to his imprisonment and early death, come from his racist foes in power in Washington? That is the question.”
The dispute about the basketball captain played out across the city. A cross was burned in Zacher’s yard, and his electricity was cut off in the middle of the night, his daughter recalled years later. A boy in her grade school walked past her desk, paused, leaned down and whispered “traitor” in her ear.
School officials insisted race had nothing to do with the controversy around Zacher’s firing. But a year later, the school board admitted in a court document that a school official, not Moore, had uttered the words “that damned nigger” when talk turned to the homecoming ceremony.
Black and white athletes quit spring sports in protest after the board ousted Zacher and his assistant, Bob Knoll. Zacher’s star player, Warren Dennis, a junior, never played again in Nowata.
“It’s simple,” Dennis told the Coffeyville Journal a few days after the board meeting. “We’re ashamed of this school and what it apparently stands for.”
Zacher fought to keep his job and sued the board.
“The easiest thing I could’ve done was turn my back on Dale and my job would have been secure for life,” Zacher told a reporter. “But where would I be if I did that?”
His case attracted the attention of the NAACP’s Tulsa branch, which sent lawyers to defend Zacher as he appealed his firing first before a state administrative board and then in federal court. Unreported in his hometown paper, the civil rights organization also invited him to Detroit to the NAACP’s annual convention. Friends told him not to go, fearing for Zacher’s safety in a city where race riots had killed dozens five years earlier, but the coach didn’t hesitate.
Unable to find any coaching jobs in Oklahoma, he was picked up by Leavenworth High School in Kansas, which was a big step up professionally. Dennis and his family moved so he could play his final year under Zacher, and Zacher’s assistant coach, Bob Knoll, joined the following year.
From 1972-76, Zacher’s Leavenworth teams posted a combined record of 52 wins and 33 losses, but the 1976 season was a disaster. His team finished the season 6-15. It was Zacher’s first losing season.
After a 102-64 drubbing, the Leavenworth Times sports page cracked, “Being on the short end of a lopsided score like that is sort of like watching a play in which the hero dies in the first act.” The paper complained that Zacher had been “childish” and denied a reporter a quote after a game. Zacher wrote to the Times calling the locker room “private domain” and complaining about how the paper’s “good coverage” had turned to “negativism.”
“I have been the subject of trumped up charges before and have been fired from a position of head basketball coach because of them,” he wrote. “When the day comes that I have to compromise my principles … I should not be continuing in the profession that I love dearly.”
One school board member kept a chart of Zacher’s technical fouls — sanctions for unsportsmanlike conduct — which increased with the losing. As his team suffered and his relationship with the press deteriorated, his personal life was coming undone. Zacher was going through a divorce and had moved in with Knoll and his family.
After the season, Leavenworth’s school board voted to fire Zacher only to reconsider in a second vote, which gave him a one-year probationary extension. Still, he never coached again.
On Sunday, Sept. 5, 1976, Knoll, his wife and daughter went to church. When they came home, after stopping at a watermelon stand, Knoll found Zacher face down next to his car in the garage, the engine running.
The coach’s suicide made little news except for a brief wire service story that mentioned his firing in Nowata. Zacher was buried in his hometown of Alva, Oklahoma, on his 36th birthday.
The NAACP conventioneers were weary. They’d sat through long, tedious debates about bylaws and resolutions and travel expenses. The big speakers had come and gone, including a young Jesse Jackson Jr. and a couple of congressmen.
That night in Detroit, they were looking forward to the closing dinner at the Sheraton with Dinah Shore performing and a car raffle. Many of the delegates had already left by the time Zacher made his way to the stage.
As Zacher waited, the conventioneers dragged on about nominating committee voting procedures.
“Let’s move on,” he said.
“In keeping with our efforts to bring to you notice of things which seem to be of importance and consistent with the program of the Association, one of the members of the national board from the state of Oklahoma has asked leave to introduce to you one of his fellow Oklahomans,” Ming said.
Few clapped when Zacher took the microphone. Introduced as Nowata’s basketball coach, he quickly set the record straight in his slow southern drawl.
“Thank you, I won’t take just a minute … I was the basketball coach,” he said, and a few in the crowd chuckled.
Zacher got right to the story. He told them about Dale Martin. He said he’d bucked the school superintendent and school board members when he refused to make Martin step down in the homecoming ceremony. The crowd fell quiet.
“I said no, by no means would we do this,” Zacher said. “They informed me that our community and the power structure in the community would not stand for it. And I said I had never consulted the power structure on who I would play or how I would play or whatever else. And that people are people and we’re going to treat them as such.”
He went on for a few minutes. Even though Moore had told him he’d never coach again in Nowata, Zacher told the crowd he still hoped there was a way.
“Our whole philosophy was this,” he said. “They hired me as an educator to remove ignorance, and if I perpetuated ignorance and racial prejudice, I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
The crowd roared. And Ming, who knew a poignant speech when he heard one, didn’t tamper with Zacher’s moment. “Well, I suppose no comment is necessary,” Ming told Zacher. The applause echoed. “I think you’ve made your own comments.”