Here’s today’s column. You’re probably all getting a little sick — one way or the other — of Tom Foley’s bluster and the collective press reaction to it. Even so, let me call you attention to the interview he gave my colleague John Dankosky last week. It was peppered with crazy talk, including Foley’s bizarre and oft-repeated assertion that he is hewing to the same standards of journalists. In amplification, he insisted that Watergate was a story based on one anonymous source. This is an untrue, lazy, stupid and arrogant thing to say. Watergate was based on hard-nosed, old-fashioned reporting, following money trails, ringing doorbells and making cold calls. The role Mark Felt agreed to play was to confirm or deny information the reporters got from other places.
He also claimed John Rowland was taken down by The Courant, using a couple of anonymous sources.
On what planet? The Courant and NYT — and the JI before that — all did significant reporting in 2004, but all of it was preceded by a federal probe that began (quietly) years before that. Eventually, the legislature was dragged kicking and screaming into the process and compiled hundreds of pages of sworn testimony about Rowland’s illegal dealings.
If there was a moment in there when any newspaper was carrying the story along on two unidentified sources, I’d like to know when that was.
The crowning moment came when Foley was asked about his claim, in the last campaign, that it was never proven that Rowland gave money to the state contractors who gave him stuff. This time around, Foley said, well, there was no trial . So it was never proven at trial. Understand: Rowland plead guilty and signed a stipulation at sentencing that he was part of a criminal conspiracy to award major state contracts.
So this, as Dankosky pointed out, is Foley’s standard of proof:
1. Rowland’s signed statement to the court admitting to a crime is not “proof.” (To say nothing of all the sworn testimony collected by the select committee on impeachment).
2. His own vague assertions based on who knows what represent an adequate basis for belief.
Listening to Foley is oddly reminiscent of hearing Donald Trump fulminate about Obama’s birth certificate.