The right-wing types who dominate Alabama's mainstream press evidently are incapable of understanding critical issues presented by the Don Siegelman prosecution and the evolving Bush Justice Department scandal.
The latest example comes from an editorial in today's Birmingham News about reports that the Justice Department used political criteria to decide who would get hired for prestigious honors and internship programs. An internal audit showed that outstanding applicants were culled simply because they had connections to progressive politicians or programs.
"Dumb," writes the News. "There's just no better word to describe the U.S. Justice Department's use of bogus political criteria to decide who would get hired to work in its offices."
Actually there is a word that better describes this activity. It's "corrupt."
This is the tip of a corrupt iceberg that only will become fully visible if Congress ever truly gets down to the task of fumigating the cesspool created by loyal Bushies at Justice.
Editorial writers at the News, however, cannot understand it. They hint that Siegelman is an opportunist when he uses the recent report to help validate his charges of political prosecution.
The News braintrust has the gall to write the following: "This is not the first time the Bush administration's own folly has bolstered Siegelman's wild claims of political prosecution."
If the News' honchos pulled their heads out of their collective fannies long enough, they might try reading U.S. Judge Mark Fuller's pathetic memorandum opinion regarding Siegelman's imprisonment pending appeal. This document shows that even Fuller himself, the judge who ramrodded the Siegelman case, cannot justify the guilty verdict reached in the case.
Then the News' editorial gets even nuttier:
"As this newspaper has said, these dismissals (of nine U.S. attorneys) at the very least make it harder to flat-out dismiss Siegelman's claims. That's true even for those of us who believe he was justly prosecuted and convicted for selling a seat on a state board in exchange for a political contribution."
How sad that a major newspaper has to resort to saying it is among those who "believe" Siegelman was justly prosecuted. How about getting off your conservative duffs and doing some investigation? The Siegelman case is not about what anyone "believes;" it's about the rule of law.
A good place to start in understanding the law in the Siegelman case is this post from the White Collar Crime Prof blog. It provides important analysis of McCormick v. United States, which is central to the Siegelman appeal and shines light on this question: When can a campaign contribution become the basis for a prosecution on extortion, bribery, or mail fraud charges?
Is it possible that Alabama's right-wing press types will ever educate themselves about the facts and the law in the Siegelman case? The answer to that question is almost certainly "no." That's because anyone who is remotely objective and makes any attempt to grasp the facts and law surrounding the Siegelman case will conclude that the former governor was railroaded.
That conclusion would upset the closely held conservative world view of the News' honchos, so we won't hold our breath waiting for them to come to their senses.
We do know this: The fact that News editorial writers still are talking about what they "believe" regarding the Siegelman prosecution only illustrates how pathetic the paper's reporting on the case has been.