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Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Whatever else there might be to say about Conrad Black (and sometime over the next week to 10 days or so there will be rather a lot), this weekend’s coverage ran the gamut of opinion and interest, pointing up yet again that anyone who claims no concern for Crossharbour’s comings and goings is either a knave or a liar. Reviews of his mammoth Richard Nixon biography played up the drama inherent in Black—at the most testing, tumultuous moment of his life—taking on the 20th century’s most tumultuous and tested president. Writing in The Guardian, Peter Preston observed:

“So we’re back to the inevitable second strand here, to Richard M. Nixon as an invincible model for Lord B of Crossharbour. Was Nixon only a shyster? Of course not: he was much more than that. Black—on this form—is also much more than your average, controversy-ridden press baron. He has a rare talent for serious history, and the talent to tell it well. Watergate isn’t just regurgitated in this account: it is clear and set in a rational context. How could he toil to such solid effect in the midst of such personal strife? It’s remarkable.

But it is also calculated. Set Nixon against Kissinger, rivals as well as partners, and you’d think Kissinger (a Black appointee to the Hollinger board) would get rave reviews. Not exactly. Kissinger was a ‘self-absorbed egotist,’ a malignant gossip, a master ‘of scraping the barrel with his obsequious memos and asides’—while ‘loyal Richard Nixon’ was ‘touchingly generous countless times in his life’ but, in his loneliness, sadly vulnerable ‘to the counsel of extreme cynics and people of thuggish mien.’

Consider your literary verdict carefully, members of the jury: and try to remember exactly who’s there before you in the dock.”

Beyond that, Black himself held forth by way of an exclusive interview with the National Post. In it he displayed a newly won reserve, for the most part demurring on questions relating directly to the case and the potential prospect of incarceration, saying of the former, “It would be impolitic for me to explain at this time why I did not get exactly the trial I expected.” And of the latter, “We’re putting everything in place for all contingencies.” It’s all rather a long way from prosecutorial “Nazis” with a case “hanging like a toilet seat around their necks.” Such are the wages of wisdom.

The Globe, having been thoroughly bested, fell to reporting that a Facebook group was posting supportive messages, and that one of the messages might be from Jack Boultbee’s son. Stop the presses.

Black: ‘Not the trial I expected’ [National Post]Still tricky [Guardian]Awaiting verdict, Black gains online support [Globe and Mail]Black verdict expected this week [Toronto Star]Black jury’s clock time typical of big fraud cases [Toronto Star]Brought down by arrogance [Independent]Lord Black ponders prison sentence [Times of London]

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