This post will tend to be a NYcentric one, but it has application worldwide and in the current presidential race.
For those who haven’t seen it – and I don’t know how much press it has received in other parts of the country – Bernard Kerik, former police commissioner of NY, and nominee to be Director of Homeland Security, was indicted in Federal Court the other day.
Kerik had already pled guilty in NY State court to a raft of charges. By taking a guilty plea, instead of gong to trial he was allowed to plead to a series of misdemeanors.
The federal charges are something different.
As Barry Bonds is learning these days, Federal Prosecutors take the greatest offense not from the crimes themselves, but from lying to them.
But Kerik is guilty of such an astonishing range of crimes that it is almost hard to fathom.
But here is the first point of the post:
It seems that the press was more than aware of these crimes from day one of Kerik’s appearance on the NY scene.
Some background: Bernie Kerik was a narcotics detective here in NY who got himself assigned to Rudy Giuliani’s protection detail during Giuliani’s first run for mayor.
Giuliani then hired him as his driver. Kerik became the head of a prison in NJ. Rudy then made Kerik corrections commissioner in NY, and then finally police commissioner.
During that time, Kerik had a construction company, that was bidding on city projects, pay for his wedding; do extensive renovations on his apartment; had a developer loan him the money to buy that apartment; had another developer pay the rent on his luxury Manhattan apartment; he conducted numerous extramarital affairs fully in view of the press – even escorting his most famous “date” publisher Judith Regan, regularly to red carpet events; and most egregiously, used an apartment near ground zero, which had been donated for rescue workers to use for respite, to conduct his affairs.
He also used NY Detectives for his personal affairs, sending homicided detectives to look for Regan’s purse when she lost it, etc.
Giuliani pushed his nomination for first, the job of training the Iraqi police force, a 6 month position that he left after only 3 months, and finally, for Director of Homeland Security.
He also employed him at Giuliani and partners, his consulting firm. Ata quite substantial salary.
When the story broke, several things were alarming .
First, to me, is the fact that all the reporters who regularly covered him, said quite frankly that these things were known by all involved.
So, the question? Why wasn’t any of this revealed by the press?
I asked this question years ago with regard to the NY Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden. The first time he was busted for cocaine, the beat reporters all said it was well know, that Gooden was seen regularly at crack houses in Queens.
So why does the press choose to keep these things quiet? They take what they perceive as the “temperature” and decide the public doesn’t want to hear negative things about this particularly.
Kerik was regarded as a hero of 9/11. Of course, he never would have gotten to that point had the press revealed the truth previously.
The second point is this, and it is reflected in the post yesterday about Pervez Musharraf and his relationship to President Bush: At what point does loyalty to one’s friends become a negative factor rather than a plus?
I support my friends to the end. It is the only way I know.
However, faced with this unbelievable story about Kerik, and the fact that he has already pled guilty to many of these charges, Giuliani simply says he made a mistake in pushing his nomination for Homeland Security.
He has not distanced himself, nor ever said, even though it is now apparent that he was aware of all of these things when they were occurring, that he made a mistake in judgment about the man.
Kerik is a thug, and always was. From the moment he got power, he was corrupt. The crimes started immediately. The city investigators, when he was nominated for the corrections position, pointed these out to Giuliani.
And yet Giuliani cannot bring himself to admit he was wrong in his judgments.
And that is what is the key here. Part of being a successful President is having good people around you.
It is a quandry for me because issue by issue, on those that can be reduced to a yes or no, I am more closely aligned politically with Rudy than any of the other candidates.
And yet, this is an inexcusable lapse.
When will public figures understand that Americans can be incredibly forgiving. They care less about the crime than the cover up.
Admit the mistake, and move one.
But what of the press? What is their responsibility here?
How can they allow this to go on?
I saw the same thing in my years with the Yankees in regard to George Steinbrenner and his sociopathic behaviour. Because the press got free food, and were treated well, they were want to ever write the lunacy that really went on.