by Joe Shea
IS CRUZ A LIAR?
The series of missteps called out by Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have chafed the Cruz campaign.
The worst of them was a tweet and email saying Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out of the race for the Republican nomination, sent out to evangelical voters just 15 minutes before the Iowa caucuses began.
Today, the brouhaha is over a video in which someone allegefly misheard Sen. Marco Rubio comment on a Holy Bible a Cruz staffer was reading.
In the meantime, Donald Trump calls Cruz a liar several times a day. The actual proper protocol, if it is untrue, is for Cruz to punch Trump in the nose.
The video, which got Cruz'es chief spokesman, Rick Tyler, fired after a series of meetings called by the candidate, alleged that Rubio had said, "All the answers aren't in there," when, Rubio says he'd said, "All the answers are in there."
This tempest in a teapot got resolved in Rubio's favor, although I'm uncertain how, since none of the news folks who reported on it revealed the manner in which the Florida senator's words were clarified.
Both versions sound credible. But Cruz never said anything at all, so I don't know how anyone can call him a liar.
Back when I was living in Hollywod and writing for the New York Post about the O.J. Simpson investigation, the LAPD handed out a tape of a phone call to 911 from his ex-wife, Nicole, in which O.J. was allegedly yelling and screaming at the door as he pounded on it.
The words as rendered on the tape were basically so poorly recorded that none of the thousands of mediaites covering the case could understand what was said.
I took the tape across N. Ivar Street to my good friend, Bob Vargo, who was highly skilled in electronics of all kinds. He managed to slow it down and amplify it so the words were clear, and they were pretty nasty.
Unfortunately, the Post wasn't interested because it didn't come from their vaunted investigative reporter instead of me, a "Special Correspondent" who infrequently wrote for them.
I am not sure who or how the news folks figured out what Rubio said, or just took Rubio's word for it. In my estimation, only a rube hack would do that, but they probably did. They apparently didn't know a Bob Vargo.
My other experience with lying in politics is more instructive, and well-founded. At the time, I was writing press releases for nine Republican-Conservative members of the New York City delegation to the State Assembly.
Several of those members were based in Brooklym and knew a district leader named Vince Riccio, who was an outstanding guy who did an awful lot of unpaid work training teenagers in his neighborhood to box.
Vince had made a run for the Assembly a few years earlier, and all my guys backed him, but his opponent started spreading vicious lies about him. Vince took him to court, charging him with slander and defamation.
What happened may be news to Donald Trump, who has talked about suing Cruz for lying about him. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against Vinny, whom I helped a little the second time he ran. His experience actually precipitated a big profile in The New Yorker about him.
The Court said that in politics, as in love and war, because it is such a protected form of expression, all is fair. Political speech cannot be the basis for slander, libel and defamation suits. In other words, it's just politics, and serious people pay no attention, anyway. Vinnie lost.
Cruz'es guy, Rick Tyler, had tweeted out a news story, which Cruz later said was "false" (but how did he know?), and Tyler tweeted an apology.
Cruz said he tried to get the bottom of it all, and then fired Tyler. It's not even alleged that Tyler knew anything about the veracity of the news story, and we never learned what happened to the guy who wrote it, or even who he was or wrote for.
That guy may have been informed by the Cruz staffer who was reading a Bible in what looked like the lobby of a Holiday Inn or the like, who was the only guy who really knew what Rubio said. Did he make up the story? Did he get fired, too?
And are all the answers in there?
Joe Shea has been a writer/reporter for 45 years. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.