We can tell from our site analytics that a lot of readers have been searching here for information about the Don Siegelman/Richard Scrushy case, and many readers have asked us directly to look at the case more closely, especially after the 60 Minutes broadcast last week. After the sentencing, I wrote a lengthy analysis of the case and its merits in a Weekly cover story. Other journalists have crossed swords with bloggers over this story, but aside from what else I write here, I think I've said all I've wanted to about the matter.
The hue and cry from the left is insistent, but it confuses motives for evidence. The only thing currently separating these Karl Rove scenarios from whole-cloth conspiracy theories is the precarious story of a Rainsville lawyer. On 60 Minutes Dana Jill Simpson's narrative was hemmed in and pinned down by a line of yes-or-no questions, but when given the opportunity to expound, she has told a much more revealing story. The Birmingham News did a good job last year illustrating this point on it's website in a post that went largely unnoticed. You can find that post here with the News' coverage, audio clips from Brett Blackledge's interview with Simpson, as well as the transcripts of her deposition before congressional investigators.
Siegelman's own version of the conspiracy theory has evolved over the years. In the beginning, it was a conspiracy to make Steve Windom governor. But after the dark horse Bob Riley beat Windom, Siegelman redrafted his conspiracy theory to match the changing characters.
However, the drumbeat of scandals coming from his administration in Montgomery was a constant. I'd list them all, if someone hadn't done so already. While the creator of thetruthaboutdon.com is obviously no fan of the former governor, I can't impugn the journalism the site uses for fodder. (And to be fair, you can read the other side's arguments at donsiegelman.org.)
Alabama media have taken a beating for being so skeptical, but I still believe time will prove our credibility. In a column last year, I wrote:
Many reporters in the state have given the Simpson affidavit and Siegelman's claims less credence than their national counterparts, and liberal bloggers have all but depicted the local media as a bunch of backcountry Klansmen, in lockstep with Grand Wizard Karl Rove, lynching the once-great governor.
But I'd argue that the reason for the local media's incredulity is that our memories stretch back further - to when Siegelman's administration collapsed after a steady succession of scandals, to when Siegelman's administration tried to squelch the bad press by obstructing reporters' access to public records, to when the governor's fortunes floundered because he couldn't govern as well as he could campaign. In the fuller context of the Siegelman saga, we are living in the epilogue.
— Kyle Whitmire