When I heard that 60 Minutes would broadcast a story about former Alabama Democratic governor Bernie Siegelman in which a former GOP campaign worker claims she was asked by Rove to look into whether he was having an affair, I spread the word by emailing the TLC listserve.
The story aired last night but you can find the video here. >
An AP story from yesterday described what the 60 minutes segment would describe:
"A former Republican campaign worker claims that President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, asked her to find evidence that the Democratic governor of Alabama at the time was cheating on his wife...
Jill Simpson, who has long alleged that Rove may have influenced the corruption prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman...
Simpson testified to congressional investigators last year that she
overheard conversations among Republicans in 2002 indicating that Rove
was involved in the Justice Department's prosecution of Siegelman."
Governor Siegelman sits in jail in Alabama, but the 60 Minutes story was sure to make voters in Alabama question whether the prosecution was motivated by Justice or by a politicized Department of Justice doing Karl Rove's bidding. So what did most of the voters see?
Strangely enough, "technical difficulties" meant that many viewers in Alabama encountered a service interruption during the broadcast. As Scott Horton writes at No Comment:
I am now hearing from readers all across Northern Alabama—from Decatur to Huntsville and considerably on down—that a mysterious “service interruption” blocked the broadcast of only the Siegelman segment of 60 Minutes this evening. The broadcaster is Channel 19 WHNT, which serves Northern Alabama and Southern Tennessee. This station was noteworthy for its hostility to Siegelman and support for his Republican adversary. The station ran a trailer stating “We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes tonight featuring ‘The Prosecution of Don Siegelman.’ It was a technical problem with CBS out of New York.”
But Horton, unlike the viewers in Alabama, was able to check out this story:
I contacted CBS News in New York and was told that “There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters.” Channel 19 is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, who can be contacted through Rhonda Barnat, 212-371-5999 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Oak Hill Partners represents interests of the Bass family, which contribute heavily to the Republican Party. Viewers displeased about the channel’s decision to censor the broadcast should express their views directly to the station management or to the owners.
Strangely enough, when I go to the link from the AP story I referenced yesterday, and quoted above, I read that "the story is no longer available." Why? As Horton states:
Hopefully the Associated Press editors will start paying close attention to the reporting that is moving over the AP wires with a Washington dateline about the Siegelman case. We now have the second straight AP story filled with highly tendentious and misleading statements which are carefully set out to mirror the attack line put out by the Alabama G.O.P., but using the wireservice’s own voice.
Horton lays out the misleading statements made in the article, and evidently it was later withdrawn. More stunning than the allegations themselves is the substance of the investigation. As Horton states:
The CBS piece, for which I was repeatedly interviewed, came through on its promise to deliver several additional bombshells. The most significant of these was the disclosure that prosecutors pushed the case forward and secured a conviction relying on evidence that they knew or should have known was false, and that they failed to turnover potentially exculpatory evidence to defense counsel. The accusation was dramatically reinforced by the Justice Department’s failure to offer a denial. It delivered a fairly elaborate version of a “no comment,” and even that came a full twenty-four hours after it had conferred with the prosecutors in question. The gravity of the accusations made and the prosecutors’ failure to deny them further escalates concerns about the treatment of the former Alabama governor.
But the show was dominated by one of 52 former attorneys general from 40 of the 50 states who have called for a Congressional probe of the conduct of the Siegelman case, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. He leveled a series of blistering accusations at the Bush Administration’s Justice Department. With the Alabama G.O.P. this evening issuing a near-hysterical statement in which it characterizes the CBS broadcast—before its transmission—as an anti-Republican attack piece, it was notable that Woods, like the piece’s other star witness, is a Republican. Not just any Republican, either. Grant Woods is co-chair of the McCain for President leadership committee, and a lifelong friend and advisor to the presumptive 2008 G.O.P. presidential candidate. Woods is also godfather to one of the McCain children.
Attorney General Woods has this to say about the Bush Justice Department’s prosecution of Siegelman: “I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of.”
No wonder "the base" is not comfortable with McCain. Consider for a second, the nature of the allegations:
The basic charge is that businessman Richard Scrushy gave $500,000 to the Alabama Education Foundation, a vehicle Siegelman created to run a campaign for a state education lottery, and Siegelman in exchange appointed him to the state’s hospital oversight board.
And that these allegations are being made by the Bush Administration's highly politicized Justice Department:
Karl Rove pursued financing for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and again in 2004 by organizing a special elite status—called “Pioneers” and “Rangers”—for persons who donated or raised $100,000 or more for the campaign. These donors understood that if they wanted to be appointed to a government office, like an ambassadorship, they only had to ask for it.
So how many Bush-Cheney donors in amounts of one hundred thousand and more were appointed to government offices or to positions in the Bush-Cheney transition team? The answer is one hundred and forty-six (146). And in how many of those cases did the Justice Department initiate investigations of corruption? The answer is zero (0).