Look Who’s Talking II
While the Canadian press snoozed through an excellent opportunity to confront his Lordship Monday eve, Men’s Vogue arrived on local shelves complete with a cover line that reads, “Exclusive interview inside the trial of Conrad Black: ‘I’ll survive it all.’” Flipping to page 150, we find an eight-page feature by Nicholas Stein (a recently repatriated Torontonian who’s spent the better part of his journalistic career in NYC) that incorporates a 1,400-word e-mail Black sent to Stein following the trial. In the article, Stein describes Black’s correspondence as “written in the bombastic, abstruse style for which he is famous” and “[displaying] the fierce intellect responsible for his extraordinary rise—but also [suggesting] the qualities responsible for his sudden, devastating fall.”
While there’s much here the seasoned observer already knows—Black feels he’s the victim of an unjust trial and conviction, America’s justice system is pursuing a “substitute for a wealth-redistribution policy” through the “pursuit of prominent well-off people,” he still hopes for a complete acquittal and “on a worst case not a severe sentence”—a couple of things surprised me. First there’s Black’s relative equanimity regarding the three stooges of the audit committee: “None of them would have wished to lie, but all appeared with an official rod on their backs, immunity or a plea bargain.” And second, there’s Black’s confirmation that testifying on his own behalf was a lousy idea best avoided: “My testifying would have opened the trial up to a much wider range of questions, which I could have dealt with, but it would have made the trial longer and more complicated.” In other words, “I couldn’t trust the jury not to convict me on more than they did, had they heard from the horse’s mouth.”
And speaking of which, our old friend, juror Jean Kelly, makes a cameo appearance suggesting that she and two others held the jury’s feet to the fire to ensure that they convicted on the evidence. “I don’t think anyone realizes how close Black came to being found guilty on everything.” All in all a worthwhile read that points to some hard realities coming Black’s way 40-odd days hence.