It looks like 60 Minutes is postponing, and probably killing, its scheduled report on the Don Siegelman case in Alabama.
That's the latest from Larisa Alexandrovna on her at-Largely blog. CBS claims to be taking additional time to conduct background research on whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson. But Alexandrovna reports that the Bush White House has launched an effort to discredit Simpson and get the Siegelman story killed.
The White House has enlisted the help of U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in the effort to kill the Siegelman piece, Alexandrovna reports.
Sessions is hardly a disinterested observer in all of this. Time magazine reported that Lanny Young, a key witness against Siegelman, made illegal campaign contributions to Sessions and fellow Republican Bill Pryor (now a federal judge, then Alabama attorney general). The Bush Justice Department, of course, went after Siegelman and ignored the allegations against Sessions and Pryor.
A few questions come to mind upon reading Alexandrovna's report:
* Why would the Bush White House be so interested in a 60 Minutes report on the prosecution of a former governor in Alabama? Why would they care?
* Wouldn't 60 Minutes' news people check Jill Simpson's credibility on the front end of the story? Answer: Yes. And if they had serious concerns, they would not have moved forward with interviewing numerous other subjects for the story.
* Don't 60 Minutes' news people have ample public documents upon which to make judgment calls about Ms. Simpson's credibility? Answer: Yes. She has signed a sworn affidavit, and she has answered questions under oath before Congressional lawyers. She has spoken to a number of reporters. And I suspect her life was pretty much an open book for the 60 Minutes news people.
* So what's the Schnauzer take on this? I've got about 30 years of experience in the journalism business, and this looks like a case where the CBS news folks are ready to go with a story, but the corporate side is putting a halt to it. If a news program of 60 Minutes stature caves on a story like this, our democracy is in serious trouble. Conservatives might think this is good news. But I have a word of caution for them: Be careful what you wish for. This kind of pressure to cover up the truth--if successful--puts cracks in the very foundation of our country. And that doesn't just hurt progressives, liberals, and Siegelman supporters. That hurts all of us.
* At the end of her piece, Alexandrovna encourages her readers to contact CBS and Congress to voice concerns. (I second that.) Then she offers this: "You may also wish to contact Senator Jeff Sessions and ask him who John Price is, you know, just for shits and giggles."
Alexandrovna vows that she will report the material that CBS is apparently afraid to run with. And to that, I say, "You go, girl!" But John Price? That is certainly interesting.
Wonder if it could be the John Price referred to in this ugly criminal case a few years back, one that involved Price Rubber Corporation of Montgomery, Alabama? Does Jeff Sessions have connections to this case or this Price fellow, who apparently planned "hits" on a number of perceived enemies? Enquiring minds want to know.
Even if this isn't the Price referred to in Alexandrovna's report, the case is worth a look. Check out the history section near the top of the opinion. It will curl your hair, if it isn't curly already.