John Dowd, now Symington's lawyer, couldn't dispute the facts in the stories, so he went after the reporter instead.

In 1992, Dowd and Jay Smith, a high-priced Washington, D.C., public relations expert, met with Dougherty and the Trib editorial board in Mesa.

At the meeting, Dowd and Smith attacked Dougherty's integrity, then Smith challenged Dougherty to a fistfight outside.

For the first and last time, Dougherty took the bait.
"Let's go," Dougherty said, slamming his hand down on his tape recorder with such force that he broke it.

There was no fight.
But Dowd got exactly what he wanted--Dougherty was pulled off the story by unsupportive management at the Trib. He was too hotheaded, they said.

They were fools.

In March 1993, Dougherty began working for New Times. His coverage of the governor intensified.

Symington must have been terrified. He knew Dougherty's reporting could bring him down, and refused to talk to Dougherty.

Despite the governor's silence, Dougherty stayed on the story. He kept turning up documents pointing to financial crimes. Hundreds of documents--lease agreements, loan applications, financial statements. Later those same documents would be introduced as evidence at the trial.

In 1996, the feds indicted the governor.
During the 1997 trial, Dougherty, the only reporter who had explored the financial records inside and out, was often asked by other reporters to explain the details and nuances of the case. That infuriated John Dowd, because it thwarted his efforts to spin the media on how Symington was being wronged by the federal prosecutors.

Dowd was desperate.
Again, he went after Dougherty.
Dowd baited Dougherty day after day at courthouse press conferences in an effort to destroy his credibility with other reporters, with the public.

"You're an asshole," Dowd told Dougherty more than once.
Early on in the trial coverage, Dowd would respond to Dougherty's questions by asking the reporter, "What planet are you from?".

Once when Dougherty asked him a legitimate question about trial testimony, Dowd got so angry he slapped Dougherty's tape recorder out of the reporter's hand, sent it skidding into the street, the second of Dougherty's tape recorders to bite the dust because of Dowd's baiting.

But this time, Dowd, not Dougherty, had lost control.

Last Wednesday, after the verdict had been delivered, Dougherty covered Symington's resignation speech.

Then Dowd marched over to the podium to answer questions.
Always trying to sway public opinion for his client the criminal, Dowd must have figured that, among the many reporters present, there would surely be a few ignorant enough to swallow his nonsense about how the ex-governor had solid grounds for a mistrial.

Before he started, Dowd looked out at the herd of reporters. John Dougherty was sitting in the front row.

Certainly, the problem, as Dowd must have seen it, was that Dougherty would stay on the story, just because he wanted his readers to know the truth.

Contact Terry Greene Sterling at 229-8437, or online at tgreene@newtimes.com

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