Trial By Media (Part II)

Page 6 of 6

Of course, if Muller had listened to the evidence handed to him on a platter, and Vasquez's remarkable new version of events, he would also have had to print that, at the same hearing, testimony was introduced in which Cudahy denied giving the secretary any such direction. In fact, Cudahy denied even talking with Vasquez on May 16, 1995. He underscored these points by saying that she had never been in his office--on that day or any other.

Ignoring these new facts, Muller milked the pitiful-victim angle. He even passed along the idea that when Vasquez challenged Carey and Woods, the prosecutors saw to it that Vasquez would never work in this town again.

"Vasquez says she is paying the price for telling her story and has found herself caught in the switches of Woods' powerful political machine," wrote Muller. "Since resigning, Vasquez said she has been unable to find work and is cleaning houses and baby sitting. She said she sent out resumes."

One of the places she did not send out a resume is the largest legal secretary placement bureau in the state, Kelly's Referrals.

A spokesperson for Kelly's said the job market for legal secretaries since the end of May, when Vasquez quit, has been particularly vigorous; the market has offered at least a couple of hundred job openings, the spokesperson said.

A computer check showed that Vasquez never registered with Kelly's, though she could have done so without charge.

Asked if Vasquez's tangled dispute with Carey would have kept the secretary from working again in the private sector, the Kelly representative said no. Such a dispute simply wouldn't be an issue, the rep said.

When interviewed for this series, Vasquez expressed less interest in gainful employment than in research into the background of Attorney General Grant Woods.

Collaborating with private investigators, Vasquez has accumulated a new set of files on the Attorney General's Office, the kind of conspiracy paperwork that is the hallmark of the obsessed.

Which, of course, is her right.
But, at the same time, it is a shiftless sort of journalism that portrays Vasquez as Muller portrayed her--someone denied the opportunity to work by a now-ten-month-old dispute with Carey.

Like the overwhelming majority of reporters who have written about this subject, Muller was easily satisfied by the siren's song of Vasquez's tale, the victim's lament. It was the easy story to tell.

Muller concluded his article: "The hard part is it's Christmas," she said. "There's not even money for a small tree or small gifts. They're waiting (her kids) and waiting."

Which, unfortunately, was true.
The question, however, is whose responsibility is that?
It is a difficult thing to look at a woman like Deborah Vasquez, someone whose path has been more difficult than most people's, and ask: Why haven't you taken work?

It is so much easier to regurgitate her claim, as Muller did: "Those who would talk to me, after they found out I was involved in a confrontation with Grant Woods, they dropped me like a hot potato."

The real dilemma, however, does not involve the antagonism between Vasquez and Carey.

The big-picture problem centers on the unquestioning coverage of Vasquez and her complaints by Arizona journalists--journalists who provided the cover that allowed County Attorney Richard Romley to bury Rob Carey.

Starting with Vasquez's petty and false allegations on the MLK luncheon, and with the press as a shield, Romley roamed the state of Arizona looking for anything, anything at all on Carey.

Romley accumulated tiny, isolated bits of data so he could write a legal memorandum that had been accumulated snowflake by snowflake, until he had a snowball.

But it was the press that provided the blinding white blizzard of allegations that buried Carey.

Rob Carey got in trouble not because he is guilty of any criminal wrongdoing, but because his friend Grant Woods is an elected official whose job is to lead the Attorney General's Office, not shovel snow.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey

Latest Stories