CBS: Republicans Did a ‘Terrible Job’ at Roger Clemens Hearing
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," while covering Roger Clemens’ testimony before Congress, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to sports radio talk show host, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, who said of the hearing: "I thought the panel for the most part did a pretty good job on the Democratic side. And I'm not really a party politic guy, but the Republicans did a terrible job." Russo went on to bash Republicans and praise Democrats "...they let Clemens off the hook. Waxman was great, Elijah Cummings was great from Maryland."
Without challenging that assessment, Rodriguez asked: "Why do you think, real quick, that they did a terrible job? There's some talk that maybe they were star struck?"
Russo then made this accusation:
I don't think they were star struck. I don't know why all of a sudden, maybe Clemens is friends with the Bush family, he's a Republican, whatever it might be, this came across on party lines. The Republican guys here did an atrocious job because they directed all their questions at Mcnamee and talked about his terrible job with credibility and laid -- let Clemens get off the hook. Terrible job.
Rodriguez then talked to Republican Congressman Darrell Issa about the hearing, and asked:
But how do you explain the fact that there was a clear divide, that the Democrats seemed to side with Mcnamee and the Republicans seemed to side with Roger Clemens? A lot of people are talking about this dissolving into basically a political squabble.
Here is the full transcript of the segment:
HARRY SMITH: Drama on the Hill as baseball superstar Roger Clemens is finally under oath, accused of steroid use, but where were the high, hard questions?
JULIE CHEN: We have a lot coming up this morning. It's a morning of news stories about character, beginning with what we learned about Roger Clemens and his wife during the four-hour congressional hearing. Just ahead, why some are saying the congressmen blew it. Were they simply star struck?
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: But first, we turn to CBS News Justice Correspondent Bob Orr on the show down between baseball great Roger Clemens and his former trainer.
BOB ORR: Even before legendary pitcher Roger Clemens, or his former personal trainer Brian Mcnamee, had a chance to speak, California Congressman Henry Waxman offered a judgment.
HENRY WAXMAN: Someone isn't telling the truth.
ORR: Then the two former friends stood side by side, took an oath and made Waxman's case.
ROGER CLEMENS: Let me be clear. I have never taken steroids or HGH.
BRIAN MCNAMEE: I injected those drugs into the body of Roger Clemens at his direction.
ORR: Mcnamee found support among Democrats, who challenged Clemens' denials, citing sworn statements from Yankee pitcher Andy Pettitte that Clemens had privately confessed to using performance enhancing drugs.
ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Mr. Clemens, do you think Mr. Pettitte was lying when he told a committee that you admitted using human growth hormones?
CLEMENS: Mr. Congressman, Andy Pettitte is my friend. I believe Andy has misheard, Mr. Congressman, on his comments about myself using HGH which never happened. I think he mis-remembers.
ORR: But many Republicans went after Mcnamee, accusing him of constantly changing his story and withholding evidence from federal prosecutors who are looking into baseball's steroids scandal.
DAN BURTON: You're here to tell the truth. You're here under oath. And yet we have lie, after lie, after lie, after lie.
ORR: Mcnamee, who claims he injected Clemens more than a dozen times between 1998 and 2001, offered an apology for tainting the national pastime. But Clemens showed only pride, repeatedly denying that he padded his baseball resume with illegal drugs.
CLEMENS: But you can tell your boys that I did it the right way and I worked my butt off to do it.
ORR: There's no question at least one of the witnesses, and perhaps both of them, lied under oath, and criminal charges could follow. Rogers Clemens' greatest test may not be over. Bob Orr, CBS News, Capitol Hill.
RODRIGUEZ: At the end of the hearing, the Chairman of the committee said he had not reached any conclusions that a criminal investigation should follow. Joining us now is Chris Russo, of radio's long-running sports talk show, 'Mike and the Mad Dog,' he followed the hearing closely. Good morning to you Chris.
CHRIS RUSSO: Good morning.
RODRIGUEZ: I know that you got a lot of calls, still getting a lot of calls, from your listeners about this. What was their take? Did they believe Roger Clemens?
RUSSO: Nobody believes Roger Clemens. Nobody in sports believes Clemens. Andy Pettitte's kills Clemens here because Pettitte's Clemens' teammate, and Clemens -- with -- Pettitte with his deposition said I had a conversation with Clemens about steroids in 1999. I did steroids, Chuck Knoblauch, another Yankee teammate, did steroids. So how could Brian Mcnamee be correct on two ex-Yankees doing steroids and lying about Clemens? So nobody in New York believes Roger Clemens.
RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, and even Roger Clemens yesterday said Andy Pettitte's his friend.
RUSSO: That's funny. He's got great credibility. So Clemens is in huge trouble. Throw in the fact that his wife did steroids in 2003, supposedly doesn't know about it, his trainer, Mcnamee, gives his wife steroids, doesn't know about it and keeps the trainer aboard, doesn't fire him. The whole thing is ridiculous, he's guilty.
RODRIGUEZ: Initially Clemens denies that the wife did that yesterday saying she did and she feels bad about it and has for years.
RUSSO: Inconsistencies all over the place with Clemens, and it obviously is going to hurt his legacy because he won three Cy Youngs following steroids.
RODRIGUEZ: So, what about the panel? Do you think they lobbed too many softballs at him?
RUSSO: I thought the panel for the most part did a pretty good job on the Democratic side. And I'm not really a party politic guy, but the Republicans did a terrible job. They put all these little pit bulls in here to kill Mcnamee, talking about his inconsistencies, he has no credibility. In Tennessee, Burton from Indiana, ‘Aunt Bee’ Foxx from North Carolina. These Republicans, Shays, my district in Connecticut, did a terrible job because they let Clemens off the hook. Waxman was great, Elijah Cummings was great from Maryland.
RODRIGUEZ: Why do you think, real quick, that they did a terrible job? There's some talk that maybe they were star struck?
RUSSO: I don't think they were star struck. I don't know why all of a sudden, maybe Clemens is friends with the Bush family, he's a Republican, whatever it might be, this came across on party lines. The Republican guys here did an atrocious job because they directed all their questions at Mcnamee and talked about his terrible job with credibility and laid -- let Clemens get off the hook. Terrible job.
RODRIGUEZ: Alright Chris, thank you very much.
RUSSO: You got it.
RODRIGUEZ: We want to get in a Republican panel --
RODRIGUEZ: For right now, give him a chance to respond to this. Joining us from Washington, a Congressman who sits on the committee, was there yesterday, Representative Darrell Issa from California. Good morning to you Congressman.
DARRELL ISSA: Good morning Maggie. And I think you've got to put Mad Dog back on his leash. You know, if you can't see the opening remark of almost 20 minutes that Henry Waxman did after saying this was going to be about the credibility of the Mitchell Report, it was going to wrap up the work we began in 2005, and what he did instead is he went after an attack on one person who probably used steroids at a time in which almost everybody used steroids. That wasn't what the hearing should have been about. It wasn't credible for us to do it. That's not our job in Congress. So yes, members of Congress went after a person who basically lied about date rape, who lied about his Ph.D., et cetera, because, in fact, bringing balance became one of the things that we could do while, in fact, we shouldn't even have been having these hearings, the way it was and on the subject it was.
RODRIGUEZ: But Congressman --
ISSA: Steroids is an important issue in baseball, but it's not the issue we dealt with yesterday.
RODRIGUEZ: But how do you explain the fact that there was a clear divide, that the Democrats seemed to side with Mcnamee and the Republicans seemed to side with Roger Clemens? A lot of people are talking about this dissolving into basically a political squabble.
ISSA: Well, first of all, nobody -- and I was there for almost the entire hearing without just a little break -- basically I didn't hear one Republican say, 'I believe Roger Clemens.' I didn't hear one Republican say 'he's credible as to whether or not he used steroids or human growth hormone.' And by the way, the Dog ought to figure out his wife was human growth hormone, not steroids. The fact is, though, that what we saw was we saw Congress being abused by a chairman who decided he was going to go after a vendetta against one individual. Look, Roger Clemens, like so many people in professional sports, probably got caught up in every way to get an edge at a time in which people were getting edge. In 2005, we called the use of steroids cheating.
ISSA: The problem we have now for Cooperstown is, in fact, probably everybody was cheating in one way or the other. Yesterday was a tragedy because Roger -- Pettitte, who said he wasn't sure, he went through multiple different depositions that were not like Mr. Waxman painted it, was excused. While a pathological liar, from what we could tell, and a man guilty of multiple different criminal activities, in fact, was brought up as the accuser. Look, Roger Clemens probably is like everyone else, caught up in professional baseball in his time, but that wasn't what we were supposed to do. We're not -- we're not supposed to have these kinds of spectacles.
RODRIGUEZ: Okay, Congressman, thank you very much for your time. I want to bring you in, Chris, real quick for, you know, your response to that.
RUSSO: I didn't hear that entirely, but here's the issue about Issa that drives you crazy. How is he going to deny Roger Clemens' did steroids? If Andy Pettitte, same trainer, said I did steroids twice and yes I had a conversation in '99 and 2000 with Roger about steroids and Chuck Knoblauch said the same thing, how does Darrell Issa say 'well, I'm not sure about Roger Clemens.' Explain to me that. Plus Issa following the issue yesterday with his nanny, who showed up with Jose Canseco.
RODRIGUEZ: Yeah, we're out of time. It looks like we have a new chapter of this, Issa versus Russo. So this is getting even more complicated. Thank you very much to both of you.
RUSSO: Oh thanks for having me, appreciate it.