A web page archived elsewhere describes a trivial incident involving former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and me, Rey Barry, over Jim Garrison's behavior in his JFK assassination investigation.
"Tom Bethell's Diary" gets it wrong, probably intentionally, and the diary is on a web site that won't correct it, mcadams.posc.mu.edu/bethell9.htm . We learned that that is an unacknowledged US Gov't maintained website. Now you know.
If the trivial is worth reporting, it's worth reporting accurately. Tom's diary has errors. This corrects them and tells the whole trivial story.
I was not on the staff of a student newspaper, as Tom states. I was 30 years old and an experienced reporter with The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, Virginia. My beat included the University of Virginia located there.
Atty. General Ramsey Clark was invited to speak at UVa in Old Cabell Hall on Friday night, Oct. 13, 1967. I covered the talk, and joined a few law students and Clark on stage afterwards for additional chitchat. It was then that Clark said something he shouldn't have said within earshot of a reporter. But it was Friday the 13th and he did.
Rather than trust my memory, here's an accurate recital from the November, 1967, issue of The Virginia Publisher & Printer (page 6) of what took place.
The controversial story appeared on page one of the Daily Progress Oct 14, 1967. I'm looking at the clipping as I type. What I quoted Clark as saying is, "Much as I may hate to do it, I may have to prosecute Jim Garrison. He took a perfectly fine man, Clay Shaw, and ruined him just for personal aggrandizement."
The story got great coverage all over the country, what with Saturday being a slow news day. The Daily Progress was a PM paper in 1967 (it's AM now) and the wire editor sent it out early Saturday morning.
As it happened, Clark was out of touch that weekend on a camping trip. He wasn't available to comment on the story for several days. By then it had blown over. In his absence there were denials from others. I stood my ground. When I'm right I don't back off. "He who dares not offend cannot be honest," is how Emerson put it.
After this affair was written up in Editor & Publisher I was contacted by a newspaper editor offering me a job as his No. 2 investigative reporter. My first assignment would be to go to New Orleans and prepare to cover the Garrison prosecutions relating to JFK. I would have loved that assignment from anyone else, but the caller was the most odious man in journalism, William Loeb of the Manchester, NH, Union-Leader.
You can't value integrity and work for William Loeb. No way.
Later Mark Lane (d. 2016) came down to my newsroom and put this all on film.
A few years after this occurred Clark won the Virginia ACLU's Bill of Rights Award and I attended the banquet in Richmond where he spoke. After dinner I sat alone with Clark and tried to discuss the Garrison quote. He refused to. Can't say as I blame him.
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