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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rove Was Looking for Gay Sex

How's that for a headline? And it's true, according to Glynn Wilson, of Locust Fork News and Journal.

Let me explain:

The juiciest part of 60 Minutes' story on the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman came when Jill Simpson revealed that Rove asked her to come up with evidence that Siegelman was "cheating on his wife."

I imagine the overwhelming majority of viewers, including yours truly, thought that meant Rove wanted evidence of Siegelman fooling around with a female aide.

But Wilson reports today that Rove actually wanted proof that Siegelman was gay, that he was having an affair with a male aide, Nick Bailey. The 60 Minutes report featured footage of Bailey in federal prison, where he is serving a sentence after pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against Siegelman.

Here is what Wilson writes about Rove's intentions:

The CBS News magazine show “60 Minutes” liked the part of the story about how Mr. Rove wanted Ms. Simpson to look into Don Siegelman’s sex life. It was what we call in the business “something new” or a “new angle” or “advancing the story” or “new details.” It’s not only sensational and scintillating. It’s downright sleazy. And of course it helped get the national audience interested, and I’m told it worked. The show’s ratings were off the charts - except in that part of North Alabama and Southern Tennessee where it was blacked out, of course.

Quite frankly, I did not want to report on that part of the story because it opened the door to bring out all of the other Karl Rove allegations about Mr. Siegelman, a tactic he’s used in every political race he’s ever been involved in. That is to say, what the “60 Minutes” story points to, without revealing it, was that what Rove wanted Ms. Simpson to investigate was this: Whether Don Siegelman was gay.

Wilson goes on to provide perspective on Rove's previous use of whisper campaigns and the ugly history of such rumors in Alabama politics:

Rove did it to Ann Richards in Texas when he was running George W. Bush’s first campaign for governor, and it worked on her. Bush won. That is well documented. He has already done it to Hillary Clinton.

And this part is lost on the reporters and producers in New York. The same sort of rumor in Alabama helped George Wallace defeat George McMillan in the 1982 race for governor, the next closest election in the state before the 2002 race between Siegelman and Riley. If memory serves, Wallace won by something like 30 votes per precinct in Alabama’s 67 counties. I know for a fact the gay rumor was floating around about McMillan from the Wallace crowd, because I heard it myself and even repeated it to then Birmingham News managing editor Tom Bailey.

Wilson talks about his own struggles as a reporter on the receiving end of ugly rumors.

Apparently, in addition to just not liking Mr. Siegelman, the Birmingham News and Mobile Press-Register reporters actually believed the rumors. And maybe they still do. I heard those rumors in the bars of Montgomery myself back in 2004 while researching Bush’s time in Alabama in 1972, when he was AWOL from the Air National Guard and working for Red Blount’s campaign for governor.

Another reason I didn’t report it initially was because it is a long and complicated story with way too many characters to get down in a newspaper or magazine story. It would take a book to document Don Siegelman’s story--and now Jill Simpson’s role in it.

The other reason is that Ms. Simpson failed to find any evidence of a homosexual relationship between Mr. Siegelman and his long-time aide Nick Bailey. So why bring that to light at all?

This is just the latest example of Rove using a well-worn page in his playbook. He's used the nasty whisper campaign in Texas. And he's used it before in Alabama, long before the Don Siegelman case hit the national stage.

More on that coming up.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. When George Wallace ran against Terry Everett, some men from out of state went from town to town in the 2nd District visiting all the local restaurants loooking for the local hoffee drinking crowd and passed out phony three dollar bills with George's face on them. I suspect that these en had been to a Karl Rove Dirty Tricks Seminar.

Several bloggers (3 or 4 years ago)commented that they had seen Rove in several gay night spots in DC during Bush's first year in office.

writechic said...

OH! That is a gorgeous headline. I'm going to bed jealous. "I" have been racking my brain all day for a headline after reading Wilson then you. It was important not to impugn Siegelman and not do Rove's dirty work. Rove is the gay baiting, race baiting low life after all. And you did it...masterfully.

For the common good, you have to let me use it...full attribution and praise will companion whatever I write, but this headline is too good for one story.

legalschnauzer said...

Sure, feel free to use the headline.

Anonymous said...

George McMillan IS (or was??) gay. He was a regular fixture in Birmingham bars in the late nineties, usually in the company of some sort of variety of a younger blonde gentleman. He and his wife had an arrangement, so to speak, and he was out of politics by then. I recall seeing him at Eunice Crabtree's Cut-Rate Delicatessen and Bait Shoppe numerous times, and he was a very gregarious, outgoing person - really seemed to mix in with the crowd.

Jessie Odell said...

George McMillian is at the very least bi sexual. When I was young and naive, I was one of those young blondes. I accompanied him to see a play Ms Ever's boys. He didn't try to hide me either. He was a nice guy. After we had some dinner and "quality time". It's no secret.