Sometimes it takes someone who is observing events from a distance, an outsider you might say, to really get to the heart of an issue.
Rick Fischer, an attorney from O'Fallon, Missouri, might be such an outsider when it comes to the Don Siegelman case--and particularly the role played by Mobile Press-Register reporter Eddie Curran.
Fischer writes a blog called Wake Up Call Missouri. The blog normally deals with issues in Missouri or Fischer's local area, St. Charles County. But he has taken an interest in the Siegelman case, and now provides considerable insight on Curran's recent letter to 60 Minutes.
After studying Curran's letter, the transcript of the 60 Minutes story on the Siegelman prosecution, and press reports of the trial, Fischer finds that Curran appears to be playing a not-so-artful game of deception.
At the heart of Curran's letter is his claim that Siegelman attorney Doug Jones made a false statement when he told 60 Minutes that witness Nick Bailey could not have seen former HealthSouth CEO give Siegelman a $250,000 check because the check was dated after the meeting Bailey was referencing. But Fischer shows that Curran is the one who seems to have a problem with facts:
Curran's claim that the 60 Minutes piece stated Bailey testified at trial about the $250,000 check is untrue. I have read the transcript and watched the program and there is absolutely nothing to support Curran's allegation. I will explain his "mistake" below.
Curran also wrote; The problem is that there was no testimony that the first $250,000 check was given to Siegelman at this meeting. Again, Curran is wrong in this statement. The 60 Minutes piece claimed that Bailey "indicated" the $250,000 check was given to Siegelman at the first meeting. And, contrary to Curran's claim, this appears to be true.
So where did Curran go wrong? Fischer explains:
Now, to explain Curran's error; Bailey did testify that Siegelman received the check at the first meeting but this testimony was apparently given at the grand jury proceedings not at trial. Siegelman's lawyers used Bailey's grand jury testimony to impeach (attack his credibility) him at trial.
Curran was actually correct when telling his wide-eyed readers that there was no testimony at the trial from Bailey that Siegelman received the check at the first meeting. However, 60 Minutes and Jones never made that claim. Curran either made a major blunder on this point or is intentionally misleading his readers, in any case Curran is the one who is "flat wrong."
In his 60 Minutes letter, Curran makes a big point of the fact that he covered the trial. But evidently Curran didn't understand what was going on nearly as well as Fischer, who was hundreds of miles away at the time. Actually, as Fischer points out, Curran might have understood perfectly well what was going on, but he now wants to mislead his readers:
In fact, if you watch the 60 Minutes piece, you will see that Bailey's credibility was a major issue at the trial, which is why Bailey's claim that prosecutors made him write out his testimony over 70 times is crucial. These statements were not given to Siegelman's lawyers and this evidence would have been so damaging it is doubtful the prosecutor would have allowed Bailey to testify. Of course, it would also be serious misconduct on the part of the prosecutor to withhold this evidence, a point Curran chooses to ignore.
Fischer really gets to the heart of the matter regarding Curran when he writes:
It is my understanding that Curran has spent years covering this story and he even claims his reporting is what led to the investigation. That he made such a major mistake in his letter to 60 Minutes is stunning and should call into question all of his reporting in this case.