After Hillary Clinton lost, her annoying lawyer friend Lanny Davis had to find a new dumb job, even though he was never on staff to begin with. And so he became a columnist for where else, The Washington Times. Yesterday’s column did, in fact, have the comical headline quoted in this post’s headline. It’s some of that contrarian hot air you’d usually see nestled indiscreetly on the front page of Slate or TNR, linking to a boring article by some “legal correspondent” almost surely named “Jeffrey.” But this is different in some respects: it’s in the Moonie Times and it’s written by Lanny Davis, so somehow it manages to be even less edifying.
Lanny’s first sentence is: “Just the headline of this piece alone, I’ll bet, shocks a number of people.” Not when it comes from you, Lanny. Nor does this lame first sentence shock any number of people — whether it’s something they teach in journalism school or just one of those unofficial rules, when you compromise your opinion piece with a “wait, wait, just hear me out” sort of lede, it usually means you have little information or grand insight to offer. Having “Lanny Davis” in your byline also has this effect.
Lanny’s column has all of these problems:
Most people assume, or have concluded, that Sen. Ted Stevens is guilty. After all, didn’t a D.C. grand jury indict Mr. Stevens on seven felony counts? Haven’t the U.S. government and its federal prosecutors concluded that Mr. Stevens failed to disclose taking more than $250,000 worth of gifts on his Senate financial-disclosure forms?
Of course the media hype and Page One, above-the-fold headlines about these charges lead to the public impression that Sen. Stevens must be guilty of … well … something.
But just suppose all these media stories began with the following paragraph:
“Sen. Ted Stevens, who must be presumed to be an innocent man until he is proven guilty by the U.S. government beyond a reasonable doubt, today was indicted on charges of filing false statements in Senate financial-disclosure forms. As is normal, the grand jury voted the indictment based on one-sided evidence presented by prosecutors, without Sen. Stevens or his attorneys having an opportunity to be present, to cross-examine witnesses, or to present contrary evidence that could have created a reasonable doubt regarding his guilt.”
Most media people and government prosecutors would probably say such a lead would be naive and ridiculous. What they couldn’t say is that a single word of the above paragraph is untrue.
And that is the point of Lanny’s column: that indicted citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, so we should all lay off of Ted Stevens. Hmm! Because what if he is innocent in his trial (not gonna happen, unless he bribes the jury, which he will), then how will we feel?
Lanny Davis hates happiness & fun things.
DAVIS: Ted Stevens: An Innocent Man [Washington Times]