|'60 Minutes' lets Roger Clemens pitch his steroid-use denials|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 06 January 2008 17:20|
Would interviewer Mike Wallace bring the high heat or lob softball questions?
Taped last week at Clemens' home in Katy, Texas, the interview was a key element in the seven-time Cy Young Award winner's campaign to clear his name after being accused of steroids use in the Mitchell Report on doping in baseball.
But the esteemed CBS news program's report did little to advance the discussion. The network, though, is sure to reap strong ratings thanks to heavy publicity and the well-suited lead-in of the Tennessee Titans-San Diego Chargers NFL playoff game.
Clemens, who first denied using steroids in a video posted on his Web site on Dec. 23, is scheduled to hold a news conference Monday in Houston. In between, Clemens likely hoped that by subjecting himself to the famously hard-nosed questions of Wallace, that his denials would gain credibility.
Wallace, who will turn 90 in May, opened the dialogue immediately on the subject of the steroids and human growth hormone accusations made by Clemens' former personal trainer, Brian McNamee.
Wallace peppered Clemens on his reaction to McNamee's detailed claims, how he sustained success into and through his 40s, and what his thoughts were on closer Andy Pettitte's admission of HGH use.
Clemens said he was angry that baseball fans weren't giving him the benefit of the doubt, that he was ``shocked'' at Pettitte's admission and, most of all, he firmly denied ever taking steroids.
Two of Wallace's best lines of questioning were asking why Clemens hadn't filed suit against McNamee (he's considering whether it's ``worth all the headache'') and whether Clemens would take a lie detector test - he might.
Still, the interview essentially was summarized in one exchange. After Clemens denied ever taking HGH, testosterone or anabolic steroids, Wallace retorted: ``Swear?'' Clemens affirmed: ``Swear.''
That was all Wallace and ``60 Minutes'' could effectively manage: a mostly thorough interview with plenty of context that nevertheless left viewers with the same question of whom to believe.
No one else was interviewed on-camera - not McNamee, former Senate majority leader George Mitchell or Pettitte. For the segment to have any real affect, it would have had to do so through reporting that didn't happen on Clemens' Texas property.
The bread and butter of ``60 Minutes'' has always been its interviews - rigorous and personable at the same time.
A producer for Wallace - who retired from permanent ``60 Minutes'' duty in 2006 - pursued the interview following the Mitchell Report, a CBS spokesman said.
But in Wallace's illustrious, award-winning career, this would not make the highlight reel.
The words ``Barry Bonds'' were never uttered. Clemens wasn't grilled when he doubted McNamee's motivation for informing, nor when he claimed Pettitte was a ``separate case.'' A close friend and teammate with the same trainer makes for more than a little relevancy.
It also could be said that McNamee's side of the argument was underserved. Two of his lawyers, Richard Emery and Earl Ward, in any case, said the interview wasn't hard-hitting enough.
To be fair, clarity has been elusive when it comes to baseball and steroids. While accusations fly and Congressional hearings loom, little concrete has been established. The Mitchell Report was the most expansive document chronicling the Steroids Era in Major League Baseball, but it relied heavily on McNamee, former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski and media reports.
Perhaps the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has asked Clemens, Pettitte and McNamee, among others, to testify under oath at a Jan. 16 hearing, will have more success.
For now, baseball fans are left to pick a side and watch the pitches fly.