Mr. Robert Anderson
555 W. 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Dear Mr. Anderson:
I have been reflecting on our telephone conversation which you initiated as a response to my November 10, 1995, letter to you charging that in a 60 Minutes piece that you produced Mike Wallace made false statements concerning the forensic evidence in the Vince Foster death case.
Before my memory of the conversation fades I'd like to get the gist of it down in writing, both for the sake of the record and because I have found, after the fashion of Sir Francis Bacon ("...writing maketh an exact man..."), that it helps me greatly to clarify my thinking.
My recollection is that, rather than addressing yourself point by point to the issues I raise in my letter, you made two main points in your defense. You invoked the authority of the four pathologists whom Special Prosecutor Robert Fiske had employed, saying that they had provided to you incontrovertible evidence of suicide, and you wrapped yourself in the prestige of CBS News, saying that because you have no particular axe to grind, if, in your professional opinion a thing is adjudged to be true, we should all accept it as true.
Another, and perhaps the principal, reason for my deciding at this time to set pen to paper again was that I was suddenly struck by the consistency , not in the substance of your argument but in the technique you employ both in the 60 Minutes piece and in your oral defense of it. A few of the Foster case characters are there, but they are out of place, invoked as authorities outside their expertise or experience while much better authorities are passed up. If you had been the producer of The Wizard of Oz, I get the impression you would have cast Judy Garland as the Wicked Witch of the West and Ray Bolger as a munchkin.
Recall that I suggested to you that, because Fiske's doctors had had to rely upon Dr. James Beyer's autopsy report for the lion's share of their analysis, eschewing, as they did, exhumation of the body, you would do better to cite Dr. Beyer as your authority. You responded that there would be a problem with that because Dr. Beyer had told "five different stories." You were admitting, it seems to me, that the man that most reasonable people would agree was in the best position to know about the nature of the wounds and their possible connection to Foster's voluntary actions is wholly unreliable. This is a very serious concession, indeed, which I'm sure would interest the viewers of 60 minutes. You went on to say that you had seen persuasive evidence that the four doctors had come up with independently, but when I asked why they didn't include such evidence in the Fiske Report you had no explanation that I can recall.
Though the Fiske doctors are not the best authorities on the nature of Foster's wounds, their opinion might have carried weight on the significance of a groove or depression on the inside of Foster's right thumb that Rep. William Clinger says he saw in the Polaroids taken by the Park Police. On 60 Minutes Rep. Clinger says that more than anything convinced him that Foster pulled the trigger. Yet, in their three and one half pages in the Fiske Report, the doctors have nothing to say about it and none are interviewed on the program. Could it be that a doctor might hurt his professional reputation making such a claim while a layman, albeit a ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives, can say whatever he pleases?
On your TV program we were also told that the numerous, many-colored carpet fibers found on Foster's clothing came from new carpets installed in Foster's Georgetown townhouse that he could have easily picked up merely by walking on them. And is it someone from a police laboratory who tells us this? No, it is the "Foster family lawyer," James Hamilton. Unmentioned is the fact that Hamilton was also an important member of the Clinton political transition team and the author of a memo to Clinton counseling stonewalling in the Whitewater case. His word, which is not only tainted, but is in this case obvious nonsense if you just think about it a little, is simply taken as final.
The criminal lawyer Hamilton is also cited by Mike Wallace as his authority that Foster was depressed, but when interviewed on screen Hamilton hardly corroborates the characterization, saying only that he "had been told" that Foster had been experiencing bouts of anxiety, or something to that effect. Was there no doctor in the house? Were you unable to interview Dr. Larry Watkins of Little Rock, Arkansas, the man who Fiske tells us prescribed an anti-depressant to Foster after talking to him on the phone, or are you as lacking in confidence in him as you are Dr. Beyer?
Then there is the matter of the impure motives, the profiteering which you strongly suggest is impelling the critics of the government. A couple of weeks ago I heard a blindly pro-Clinton local talk show host say that "the Western Journalism Center has made a half million dollars on the sale of its Foster case videos." I called him on it and he cited 60 Minutes as his authority. I had to remind him that your authority, in turn, was the lawyer for the U.S. Park Policeman, Kevin Fornshill, whose suit against Chris Ruddy and the WJC was thrown out by a judge because of the officer's irrelevance to Ruddy's assertions. You no doubt know that Jim Davidson, the editor of the newsletter Strategic Investment whose video was the actual one in question, has offered to pay Mike Wallace five times his independently verified profits on the video if Wallace will appear with him to defend his charges in a public forum. Wallace's failure to respond tells us all we need to know about the truth of this particular charge.
Speaking of Officer Fornshill, he is your authority on the condition of the death (?) scene even though he was not a part of the Park Police investigative team, such as it was, and as the discoverer of the body (the second time), was so unobservant that he claims never to have seen a gun in Foster's hand even thought the light would have been quite good shortly after 6:00 pm daylight time on July 20. Surely you could have found more reliable witnesses to query about the scene of the body's discovery.
Continuing your pattern, when I reminded you of the three handwriting experts having declared the oddly-discovered, fingerprintless, torn-up note a forgery you told me that you would rather believe the widow who has ostensibly said she thought the note was authentic. By the standards which you have set for yourself, I should surely think you would.
When all else fails Mr. Wallace himself becomes the authority, as with his statement I noted in the earlier letter about the "proof" that the gun in the hand was the death weapon and his assertion of the great difficulty anyone would have transporting the body to its discovery site undetected. He can make that latter assertion only because he works out of New York and not Washington. If he were stationed here he would encounter every day people who could easily drive out to fort Marcy Park and see for themselves, as I have done many times, what a ridiculous statement he had made. Wallace also performs a pretty neat mind reading trick, explaining what Lisa Foster meant when she told The New Yorker that Vince was "feeling trapped." Wallace says that it was because he knew he had to go to a psychiatrist, but he feared for his career should people learn of it. Lisa does not explain what she means by the "feeling trapped" statement, but since she also says in the interview she was unaware of any depression, Wallace's gratuitous interpretation is almost certainly erroneous as well.
Taken all in all what you have accomplished is exactly the opposite of what you set out to do. You tell me, implicitly, that I should go with the people who have no political agenda, who are politically non-partisan. They're the ones to believe. Well, that's me. Until November, ‘94, I had voted Democratic all my life, including for Bill Clinton in 1992. I also watch the CBS Evening News, and that's another reason why I think I'll just trust myself oh this one. You obviously want the American people to believe that this was a simple suicide, but I can't help telling myself that if this the best case CBS, with its vast, though deservedly dwindling resources, can make, then it surely must have been murder.
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