April 2, 2009

Here's a perfect example of the Washington Post's schizophrenic coverage. They have one article talking about Ted Steven's "vindication":

Now, Stevens's friends and former colleagues say, the last word will be one of vindication -- albeit bittersweet -- over an unjust prosecution that ended his tenure as the longest-serving Republican in Senate history.

"We're delighted that it's been demonstrated that Ted was telling us the truth all along. Obviously, we're a little disappointed that this didn't come out before the election," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), who served for years with Stevens on the powerful Appropriations Committee.

Bennett paraphrased former Labor secretary Raymond J. Donovan, who beat back an indictment in the mid-1980s: "I think he can get his reputation back. I don't know where he goes to get his legal fees back," Bennett said.

[...] Since then, he and his wife, Catherine, have spent half their time in their home here and the rest at their self-described "chalet" near Anchorage. Friends said Stevens left Washington late last week to return to Alaska, where he finished up repairs to his deck.

That's the same wrap-around deck that was built for Stevens by workers from Veco, the now-defunct oil services company whose former chief executive testified that he plied Stevens with more than $250,000 in gifts including home remodeling.

[...] After the news broke that the charges would be dropped, Stevens "sounded elated," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). "Here's a guy who gave 60 years of service to this country, and he was screwed [by federal prosecutors]. . . . How does he get his reputation back?"

And then they have this editorial in today's exact same paper:

Yet this extraordinary reversal cannot erase or forgive the ugly behavior that gave rise to the indictment in the first place. Trial records and testimony painted a picture of a man so consumed with his own sense of entitlement that he did not think twice about accepting such expensive freebies as a Viking gas grill, a vibrating Shiatsu massage lounger and a five-foot sculpture of migrating salmon -- not to mention extensive plumbing, electrical and carpentry work on his "chalet" in Girdwood, Alaska. All told, the government calculated that Mr. Stevens took gifts worth in excess of $250,000.

Where does this paragon go to get his reputation back? Hmm. Well, he could start by selling off his ill-gotten gains and donating the money to charity. I'm sure Ted (who's now working for a D.C. lobbying firm) could learn to love a more ascetic lifestyle!

Gross breaches of law and fairness by prosecutors are the reason that Mr. Stevens will walk free. The Justice Department admitted that the lawyers from the Public Integrity Section who put Mr. Stevens on trial failed to turn over to defense lawyers information about contradictory statements by a key prosecution witness. An agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who worked on the case also recently alleged that prosecutors had been willfully withholding pertinent evidence from the defense team.

I can't stress it enough: These are abuses of the law. Far too often, prosecutors do illegal things in their eagerness to get a conviction, and I'm always happy to see them get knocked down for doing it - even when it means a sleaze like Stevens gets off.

But that doesn't make our "intertubes" hero any less guilty, except in the legal sense -even if his conviction will be reversed. Remember that.

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