Author Letter to New York Times, sent prior to publication of book,

and seeking responses to matters to be addressed in the book.

 

Sept. 18, 2009

 

From: Eddie Curran

133 Silverwood

Mobile, AL, 36607

E-mail: eddcurran@aol.com

Cell: 251-454-1911

 

Attn: Jill Abramson, Managing Editor

Suzanne Daley, National Desk Editor

Times reporters including: Adam Nossiter, Bill Carter, Eric Lipton, Eric Lichtblau, Adam Liptak, Edmond Andrews, John Schwartz

 

c/o: Uchenna Hicks

hicksul@nytimes.com

 

Subject: New York Times reporting on the Don Siegelman case.

 

Dear above-named reporters and editors,

 

   I’m a reporter from Mobile, Ala., soon to complete a book on former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, about whom I reported on extensively when

he was governor. (See link to that reporting at bottom.)

I am self-publishing the book and hope to have it for sale by late November or early December.

 

    The book was to end with the trial and sentencing of Gov. Siegelman and his co-defendant, former HealthSouth Corp. chairman Richard Scrushy.

However, I have added a final section to address allegations by a north Alabama woman, Dana Jill Simpson; and, more specifically, the coverage

of the Siegelman case by certain national media since Ms. Simpson’s May 2007 affidavit.

Primarily, I’m addressing the coverage by “60 Minutes,” Time, Harper’s, and the New York Times, editorial and, the reason for this letter, news side.

(I have sent a similar e-mail to editorial.)

 

   I have a number of questions I would like answered. I am presenting many of them here, by subject matter. In the event that either of you or someone

at the paper chooses to respond to these questions, I may have others.

     Some of the questions assume a certain degree of knowledge about the case, and based on the number of stories written, I have to believe your familiarity

with the case is such that only brief references are required.

 

The May 2007 affidavit of Dana Jill Simpson.

With two minor exceptions -- brief stories in 2004 and 2005 when Siegelman was indicted in the Bobo case then the Montgomery case – the paper never

assigned one of its staff reporters to the Siegelman story. The few pieces it ran were from the AP wire or by a stringer.

In late May 2007, Jill Simpson – until then, an entirely unknown figure in Alabama politics– swore out an affidavit implicating Karl Rove and others as

orchestrating the prosecution, for political reasons, of Don Siegelman. Until then, Siegelman had been very publicly blaming Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and

others for in some way causing the investigation of him, but had never mentioned Rove. (Now, he almost never mentions Riley.)

 

Since Jill Simpson’s affidavit (filed, not in a court of law, but given to supporters of Siegelman and Richard Scrushy and, apparently by them, to Time and

the Times), the paper has published 23 stories. Many were devoted entirely to Siegelman’s situation, others primarily to him, and in some cases, his plight

was noted in connection with other, supposedly similar matters.

    A similar trend is found on editorial side. The Siegelman case wasn’t so much as mentioned on that page until Jill Simpson’s affidavit. Since the affidavit,

there have been 15 editorials and three op-eds about or referring to the Siegelman case.

        Some observations on those 23 articles and 18 opinion pieces:

 

If the above observations are incorrect, please correct me.

I hesitate to mention editorial’s coverage as I know there is supposed to be a wall between editorial and news side. However, considering the lack of activity on both sides regarding the Siegelman case until June 2001, and the great sudden interest by both after Simpson’s affidavit, the flurry of activity and similarities of facts reported (and those ignored) will be addressed in my book, though I invite response and comment.

 

Jill Simpson’s credibility

In Feb. 24, 2008, “60 Minutes” aired an interview with Jill Simpson in which she claimed that Karl Rove hired and/or assigned her to follow then governor Siegelman in an attempt to catch/take pictures of him having extramarital sex. Among other things, Simpson also said that it was not the first time Rove asked her to work on “intelligence” operations.

By this point, Jill Simpson’s credibility was, at least according to most people who followed this situation, in tatters. After, “60 Minutes,” she was, and I don’t mean this ugly, a joke.

However, the story she started (Rove, among others, orchestrating Siegelman’s prosecution) continued, at least in the pages of the New York Times. The paper has, at times, continued to cite Simpson as a source of the allegations against Rove and others.

Has anyone at the Times ever interviewed and/or met Jill Simpson?

Does the editorial page believe it should present serious allegations by people who are not credible?

Assuming the answer to that question is no, I can only assume that the Times considers Jill Simpson credible. Am I wrong there?

 

The“60 Minutes,” black-out

During the, “60 Minutes” program, a technical glitch knocked out the signal at WHNT, the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. For about the first 10 minutes, viewers saw nothing. (I believe the FCC has officially determined this to be the case but am double-checking.)

That night, Scott Horton, an Internet columnist for Harper’s, beat everyone to the story, posting a column that very night. Horton, as I assume you know, has been one of the chief proponents of the “Siegelman as victim of Rove-led political prosecution” story.

Wrote Horton: “In a stunning move of censorship, the transmission was blocked across the northern third of Alabama by CBS affiliate WHNT.”

Horton was also the first to report that WHNT was owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners. “Oak Hill Partners represents interests of the Bass family, which contribute heavily to the Republican Party,” he wrote.

Horton is either a lightning-fast researcher or the beneficiary of people working on behalf of Siegelman and co-defendant Richard Scrushy. These folks are obviously seeking to use the media to win freedom for the two men. I feel certain these same people are feeding information to the Times, editorial and news side, either directly or indirectly.

Among my questions:

How did Bill Carter, a Times business writer, become aware of this arcane (to say nothing of erroneous) piece of information connecting the Bass brothers to WHNT?

After learning the truth – that WHNT is largely owned by the “Democratic” Bass -- did it make the Times question the sources that were providing you with other information about the Siegelman case?

Who were these sources? If they provided you with incorrect information, then any deal to protect their identities should be off the table. Were they connected to Siegelman, Scrushy and/or their legal teams or public relations operation?

In a related question, did members of the Times’ news staff, including Adam Nossiter, consult or discuss the Siegelman case with Scott Horton of Harper’s? Did Nossiter and others on news side share information with Adam Cohen; or receive information from Cohen?

 

Karl Rove’s testimony

In July 2009, Karl Rove answered questions under penalty of perjury from the Judiciary Committee. More than 50 pages of the transcript were devoted to questions about the Siegelman case. Many of your news stories on the Siegelman case involved the allegations that Rove was involved in that prosecution.

On Aug. 12, you published a length, front-page piece by Eric Lichtblau and Eric Lipton (“E-mail Reveals Rove’s Key Role in ’06 Dismissals.”

              Absent was the first mention of Rove’s testimony on the Siegelman case.

              Why did your reporters fail to mention the Siegelman aspect of the testimony and, assuming they didn’t, why didn’t the editors compel them to?

              Was it because Rove’s denials on that matter were convincing?

 

I realize this is long, but I have, and in the book will address, other elements of the Times’ coverage, especially regarding stories by Adam Nossiter. I wonder if the Times, or Nossiter, is aware that the lawyer for “whistleblower” Tamara Grimes – whose allegations were presented in his Nov. 22 story – is Martin Adams; that Adams is Richard Scrushy’s son-in-law, and was a lawyer of record for Scrushy in the Siegelman/Scrushy case?

That story cited – and the web-page gave a link to – an “affidavit” by a juror. Does the Times know anything about that affidavit? For example, does the paper know the juror didn’t write or say those things, and that it was put together by a Birmingham pastor and friend of Richard Scrushy, and that all of this is part of the public record and was covered in the Alabama media?

             

Lastly, does the Times stand by the accuracy and fairness of its coverage of the Siegelman case?

 

Should you wish to do a telephone interview, please provide me with a phone number and suggest a good time for me to call. If you prefer to answer by e-mail, that would be fine as well. If you elect not to respond, I ask that you let me know.

 

 

Sincerely,

Eddie Curran

 

Link to stories on Siegelman while he was governor:

http://www.al.com/specialreport/mobileregister/index.ssf?contracts.html

 

P.S. I might add that I love the New York Times. I visit its web-site a dozen or more times on the average day. It’s my top source for national, international, business and cultural news and has been for many years.