"Sen. Vitter needs to do everything he can to avoid becoming a sound bite, and it would be best if he said nothing." --An anonymous GOP Senate aide.
WWW--I'm sending this e-mail off to Rob Capriccioso in a few moments, and these are going to be my last words on this whole affair wherein Rob and Radar's Editor John Cook thought they had a "big one." They didn't, and if they don't believe Ms. Palfrey is lying in her assertion that Sam Donaldson's presence in her now-defunct escort service's phone records has no significance, then what do they really assert?
To save face, I recommend the following constructive suggestion: start doing some real investigating of the people in the shadows who were her real clients, and drop the gossip. It should be noted here that none of this is to suggest that Ms. Palfrey was running a prostitution ring--that's not a necessary component.
What's very likely is that Senator David Vitter and others solicited her subcontractors to engage in acts that would constitute prostitution. There has been no trial yet, and Ms. Palfrey must be presumed innocent until proven guilty under our system of justice (or what's left of it). Go after the leads in the case of Ronald Roughead (and possibly his brother, CNO Gary Roughead), Randall L. Tobias, and Senator David Vitter.
Many in the GOP, fearing political consequences, want Vitter to fight the subpoena or refuse to answer questions by invoking Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination. Vitter has yet to say whether he will fight the subpoena. ...Vitter's allies contend the record already shows Vitter had an alleged taste for the high-priced escorts, particularly Paula Neble, so there is nothing he can add that can help Palfrey. (New York Daily News, 11.17.2007)Of course, they would know, wouldn't they? Especially considering some of them could be--or individuals associated with them--are still to be uncovered in the phone records, and if there was actually some substantial investigation occurring by those with the means to do so. Instead, we get Sam Donaldson rooked into all of this because of some misdialing, but the show still had to go on at Radar and Bigheaddc. As a result, their behavior has all the appearance of being just like the corrupt, lazy, and apathetic mainstream press. While people are attempting to cover their asses, the bad-guys are getting away (presumably with murder in many cases).
The e-mail to Rob Capriccioso:
I've read your piece, and in fairness, I am giving you some benefit of the doubt. However, simply because you've done hours of interviews with Palfrey does not support your thesis, and I'm skeptical there will be any follow-up explanations. In fact, nothing in the posting 'Blogger Thinks We Think Palfrey Is Lying; He’s Wrong,' supports the contentions that there was ever a worthwhile story here. It's my opinion that you're not seeing the forest for the trees, but you're hardly alone on this.
Of course ABC mishandled the phone records and behaved suspiciously, that's been obvious since May. Certainly, there is a strong likelihood that they were concerned about their ranks being in the records as well. But what of it? This is the same media that carried this administration's water--almost to the man and woman--and got us into this absurd and illegal war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Do you think your efforts are going to make any real difference?
ABC's not the real story, and Ms. Palfrey confirmed my thesis that there was no story with Sam Donaldson in the phone records and that you jumped the gun on all of this. She has confirmed my assertions in correspondence as being "spot-on." You contend that you don't believe she lying, which makes no sense in this context at all. You need to be watching real clients of her phone records, like Senator David Vitter, Ret. Army Colonel Ronald Roughead (US Navy CNO Rear Admiral Gary Roughead's brother), and even a fellow named Mark Capansky, a former intern of Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Goodlatte. You also need to be looking into affairs at Annapolis, a short drive for you and your associates. You're too interested in the easy fix and the smut side of the story, and the ABC story is very likely a red herring, a dead end. We can all do better than this.
I could be wrong, but you're acting just as ABC did last Spring: only being interested in the "big names," the smut or salacious side of the story, and not really interested at all in getting-to-the-bottom of the whole affair. I assume a lot of this is for the sake of brevity--it takes explaining a story of genuine significance, and the rewards are often meagre. I will not disrespect you by calling you a journalist, as it's not a good thing to be called these days.
Thanks to all this running-in-place by the press and bloggers, Senator Vitter can now be replaced with a Republican appointed by Louisiana's new Republican Governor, Bobby Jindal. However, it's possible now that the GOP's incumbents in the Senate are going to turn on Vitter because of this fact. Will Vitter's counsel move to quash the subpoena? That's likely, but it doesn't mean it's going to be successful. We can only wait and see how Judge Kessler will rule on this.
Why you continue to assert that there is something to the Donaldson story puzzles me, but that's for others to find-out and publish, I'm done with this sideshow. This is a very broad scandal with implications that strike to the core of our political and economic system. As someone living around Washington D.C., you need to start hitting the pavement and tracking-down the real clients of Pamela Martin & Associates. You're hardly alone in being distracted from what is likely the real focus of the story: specific clients like Vitter, Tobias, Roughead, Capansky, and others who haven't been uncovered yet, but who are probably the cause of the whole scandal.
I was in close-communication with Ms. Palfrey during the aftermath of the ABC debacle, and I can tell you that it's more about the people who own the network and their representatives in Congress and elsewhere in the political sectors of this country. Perhaps you agree, but clinging to the Donaldson story isn't necessarily going to get to the heart of things at the network. There is definitely more than enough smoke implicating the role of lobbyists in the Palfrey case as well. ABC's ownership made the decision not to report on a number of individuals, not merely Sam Donaldson.
There were hints very early-on that there might be journalists in there, and possibly even some from ABC--the contention isn't new. I'm frankly uninterested in the quick-fix school of journalism which takes the view of what sells best as factoid news, a rush towards bringing in those advertising dollars. ABC's Brian Ross and his producers fought a hard battle with ownership and lost, and there are stories of yelling matches at the network. That's something to think about. Accountability: it's not just for breakfast anymore. Make us proud and start hitting the bad-guys.
The New York Daily News, 11.17.2007: