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If you haven’t checked out the Café today, you’ll want to do that. Last night’s forum at which newsmakers commented on their experiences with the media was fascinating.
The speakers were Mayor Jerry Sanders, former City Councilman Michael Zucchet, John Jodka Jr. (the father of a Marine who recently pleaded guilty to charges related to the high-profile killing of an Iraqi civilian) and Xema Jacobson, a member of the airport authority board of directors.
It was a great forum and I’ll get the tape of the event as soon as possible so we can post it online. But for now, read Dean Nelson’s account of it today in the Café.
Zucchet’s measured and articulate perspective really gave you a feeling of what it was like for him to deal with the media from the moment the FBI raided his office until now. He wasn’t overly bitter or anything. But he didn’t pull any punches when he answered a question about what he thought of U.S. Attorney Carol Lam’s recent forced resignation. Read Dean’s post, but I wanted to highlight what I thought was an excellent point that Zucchet made.
He said that whoever leaked the information last Thursday to the Union-Tribune that Lam was being forced out had a reason for doing that. And that anonymous source also was able to coat the initial impression of why it was happening. Remember, the U-T‘s story implied, apparently from its source, that Lam was out because she put less of a priority on immigration and border crimes than on white collar criminal prosecutions.
That theme has stuck around, though none of us have any source from the Justice Department itself saying, on the record, that this claim — that Lam was forced out because she didn’t put enough emphasis on border issues — has any merit.
The Justice Department, in fact isn’t saying anything at all about what it calls “personnel” issues. Read this exchange between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales just this morning. Gonzales won’t even say how many U.S. attorneys he has asked to step down, let alone give us a clue as to why someone like Lam was asked to leave.
But the immigration theory lives on. Amita Sharma, on KPBS this morning, had a great point about it. Lam has never hidden what her priorities would be as U.S. attorney. It doesn’t make sense that this long into her tenure, that would suddenly become an issue. Unless, I guess, criticism from people like U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa finally got to the president.
Zucchet used the point that the theory lives and grows as a great illustration of how an anonymous source — with news tips as juicy as reports that a high-profile U.S. attorney was asked to step down — can influence the discussion of that news for months.