'AGGRESSIVE QUESTIONING' BY A.R., OTHERS, BROKE KEY CAMPAIGN STORY
American Reporter Staff
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 10, 2002 -- The Los Angeles Times today cited "aggressive questioning" that "flustered" a candidate at a post-debate news conference Monday for tipping the balance of the California gubernatorial race towards incumbent Gov. Gray Davis after alleged photographic evidence of a crime by the governor, reluctantly proffered by the candidate, proved to be false.
"During a post-debate news conference, the candidate grew flustered under aggressive questioning and went further than planned, telling reporters the campaig had 'evidence' that Davis had broken the law," the Times said in Thursday's editions after ignoring the raucous event for several days.
At the conference, an unnamed reporter asked millionaire GOP challenger Bill Simon if he had evidence that, as he had implied with a question during the televised portion of the debate, David had taken a campaign contribution in a state office, a misdemeanor.
Simon hesitated, but a chorus of voices - included that of American Reporter editor-in-chief Joe Shea, demanded that the candidate hew to "the same standard" he had asked of Davis - did he have evidence, yes or no?
"Yes," he said softly, smiling, and with those two words began a torrent of new questions about when it would be released. An American Reporter Correspondent made an audiotape of the exchange.
Later, Simon campaign workers told the Times, whose own reporters were not involved in the "aggressive questioning," that initially the progenitors of the charge, a police advocacy groups called COPS, did not plan to involve Simon with the charge until a Simon campaign worker got wind of the alleged photograph supporting it and alerted the campaign.
With his acknowledgement that he had the purported evidence - which the Times said turned out to be a photo of Davis accepting a legal $10,000 campaign contribution check from a COPS official in the private Santa Monica home of developer Bruce Katz - Simon took the onus of proving the charge on himself.
Gov. Davis yesterday urged Simon to withdraw from the campaign. While it was unlikely, a last-minute substitution of popular former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan would appear to be a brighter prospect than a Simon victory now.