By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Nor has Dowd confined his threats to journalists; Arizona's Secretary of State Dick Mahoney, who was quoted in stories regarding Symington's recordkeeping, was warned of courthouse retribution.
And now that MacNeil/Lehrer and New Times have also received correction demands, the informal count of cranky Dowd letters has climbed to approximately 19. No one has retracted, and Dowd has not sued.
Asked directly about press targets, Dowd was close-mouthed: "I am not at liberty to comment."
The response is surprising because Dowd is not above publicizing his bellicose correspondence.
On January 27 he wrote to Jeff Bruce, executive editor of the Mesa Tribune: ". . . Please be advised that this letter and my letters of January 22, 1992, will be distributed to all members of the media and the public so that we can keep your conduct out in the sunshine where it belongs. This is not a leak. It is an open, public disclosure, unlike the anonymous sources in the government who provide false information to the Washington Post and others . . ."
And with that, Dowd faxed his complaints with the Tribune to assorted Arizona media.
This particular tactic of Dowd's serves two purposes: Letters of demand for retraction copied to other papers damage a reporter's reputation for competence by providing competitors with a one-sided interpretation of an article; Dowd's letters also serve notice on every journalist who sees one of the attorney's densely packed legal missiles that Governor Symington, deep pockets and all, is feeling highly litigious.
Finally, Dowd openly boasts that he has instructed the governor to simply refuse to answer any questions put forth by a reporter who has given offense.
For instance, in his letter of demand for retractions to the Arizona Republic, Dowd writes, ". . . it will be my recommendation to Governor Symington that he simply have no further dealings with Mary Jo Pitzl."
Symington's policy of media intimidation is not limited to threats of libel. When first contacted by the producers of MacNeil/Lehrer, the governor quickly accepted the chance for national exposure. But when he learned that PBS also intended to interview journalists at New Times, Symington haughtily informed MacNeil/Lehrer that he would be unavailable if anyone from this publication went on the air. Of course, once MacNeil/Lehrer refused to buckle under to the governor's threats, Symington quickly changed his mind and talked a blue streak before the cameras. Symington's thin-skinned arrogance is not shocking to those he governs, but John Dowd is a relative newcomer to Arizona's political landscape.
@body:John Dowd is, perhaps, best known as the controversial attorney who handled baseball's investigation of Pete Rose in 1989.
After reading Reston's account of the Rose investigation, Collision at Home Plate, one can fairly conclude that Dowd was ruthless. For example, when a key witness against Rose flunked a lie-detector test administered by a retired FBI agent with 25 years' experience, Dowd brought in a different polygrapher. The second examination bolstered Dowd's case.
Dowd described Reston's account of the lie-detector test "demonstrably erroneous" and said that, "Richard Arther, the dean of polygraphers, was always our first choice. He was unavailable and I believe overseas at the beginning of our investigation."
The biggest issue of the case, however, concerned testimony against Rose by a convicted felon who was up for sentencing at the time. Dowd arranged to have Commissioner Giamatti write a letter to the judge vouching for the man. The volatile letter was conceived and written by Dowd.
The baseball player's attorneys erupted, claiming that Dowd's witness simply traded questionable information in exchange for the commissioner's help with the sentencing judge. Furthermore, Giamatti's endorsement of this unsavory character, argued Rose's attorneys, destroyed any pretext of neutrality on the commissioner's part. Giamatti, after all, was charged with sitting in judgment of Rose once the investigation was completed.
The courts agreed with Pete Rose and issued an injunction halting the proceedings.
Dowd's famous report on Rose was disputed as much as "Giamatti's letter." One of Rose's attorneys, Robert Stachler, called as an expert witness the former chief counsel and staff director of the Senate Watergate Committee, Sam Dash.
In a withering attack on Dowd's report, investigative techniques and witnesses against Rose, Dash testified that, "Frankly, this report was, in fact, so flawed that if it had been given to me as chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee by one of my deputies or investigators, I would have fired them." Three years later, Dash's comments still rankle Dowd.
"The testimony of Mr. Dash was ludicrous," said Dowd last week. "Mr. Dash never read my report to the commissioner before he testified for his old classmate, Reuven Katz, who was representing Pete Rose."
Dash was incredulous at Dowd's remarks.
"I had thoroughly read his report," countered Dash. "The work was not only inadequate, it was fallacious. It was absolutely outrageous. He actually withheld quite a bit of information from the commissioner, exculpatory information which tended to exonerate Mr. Rose was not included. . . . I did not make a conclusion as to Pete Rose's guilt. I was testifying on what kind of a job John Dowd did."
Dowd claims Dash overlooked exhibits that contained the missing information.
"If what John Dowd is saying is that I would do an unethical act for an old friend, that is outrageous. Reuven Katz is not an old friend. We are not in touch. We were not in touch. We were classmates at Harvard but that was 42 years ago. When his call first came in, it was left on our answering machine. You may not want to believe this, but when I played the tape, I asked my wife, 'Who's Reuven Katz? Who's Pete Rose?'" After Dowd's report was finally issued, Rose's lawyers, not unexpectedly, blasted it. But they also singled out Dowd's conduct for comment, concluding, "If this report is your idea of fair play and natural justice, I feel sorry for you."
Today, Dowd is stoic and imperial: "A review of the complete record shows that the criticisms by the attorneys for Mr. Rose to be without merit."