Curtis Wilkie is a former Boston Globe reporter who once wrote a book with Whitewater crook Jim McDougal, and once claimed Bill Clinton’s 43-percent victory in 1992 was some kind of “mandate.” His latest book is on currently imprisoned trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs. On NPR’s Morning Edition Wednesday, Wilkie didn’t talk about Dickie’s Democrat friends, only about how former Sen. Trent Lott and his “nefarious” political machine, also described for the NPR listener as “the dark side of the Force.”
There you have it, on your radio: Trent Lott in a Darth Vader suit. From his brother-in-law in jail, no less.
This is a much different spin than the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which concluded when Dickie was nailed for bribery: "It'd all be great fodder for John Grisham, if the novelist weren't such an apologist for Mississippi tort lawyers. Like the Milberg Weiss and Bill Lerach indictments, this prosecution is showing everyone how the pillars of the trial bar really do business." NPR's atmospherics were more Grisham novel than Paul Gigot editorial:
STEVE INSKEEP: Seems to have been part of a network of lawyers, politicians, lawyers who were politicians, politicians who were lawyers, and a lot of people who just knew each other awfully well.
CURTIS WILKIE: He really got into that in part through the help of his brother-in-law, Trent Lott.
INSKEEP: Trent Lott, who was for a long time the Republican senator, a Republican senator from Mississippi, was even the Republican leader in the Senate.
WILKIE: That's correct. He was Senate Majority Leader for a while and a very powerful political leader. But Dick at some point in his career, about nearly 20 years ago, got in one jam and was extricated from it. These political interests that were part of what we know in Mississippi as the old Eastland Organization - referring to old Senator Jim Eastland, a famous segregationist senator, who basically controlled politics in this state for years and years. And after Eastland passed from the scene, it was effectively taken over by Senator Lott.
And this is an organization, has its nefarious characteristics, controlled patronage, scratch each other's backs, fix cases, punish their enemies with prosecution, that sort of thing. And Dick fell into that. He called it. He told me that he considered it the dark side of the Force.
INSKEEP: What did he mean by that?
WILKIE: If you wanted things accomplished in Mississippi, you had to do business with them, and he did.
Inskeep marveled that even in prison, Scruggs is drawing $20 million a year from various tobacco settlements. The Clinton years were very good to him.
PS: Wilkie fit right in at the Globe by trashing the GOP platform in 1992: "Bush, the exponent of a `kinder, gentler' approach to government at the 1988 convention, was presented with a 1992 platform loaded with puritanical, punitive language that not only forbade abortions but attacked public television, gun control, homosexual rights, birth control clinics and the distribution of clean needles for drug users."