Given the onslaught of erroneous press I’ve received over the years, I’m reluctant to ascribe inordinate intelligence to many in the media, but common sense would dictate that a veteran CBS correspondent could distinguish a bug from a “button-release” on a table. But, perhaps, because of the skeptical guest’s expertise on “architecture and furnishings,” he or she was able to provide the Post with the definitive truth?
And once more, the Post relayed the unequivocal truth from the perspective of the skeptical guest: “Spence confronted them later that night. ‘I heard every word you said,’ Gordon recalls Spence saying. ‘You’re conspiring against me. I’ve got this corner bugged.’ And then he pointed to the ceiling. ‘There was never a bug hanging over Professor Gordon’s head,’ says the same skeptical guest, who was also at that party. Another person there says that it was so obvious that Gordon and Trotta were gossiping about Spence all night he would not have needed bugs to guess what they were saying.”
After the Post deployed the skeptical guest and “another person” to debunk the fact that Spence’s house was bugged for blackmail, it descended into a rather absurd commentary: “Some believe that Spence may have been up to something with the electronic equipment that friends observed in the house. But Spence’s clairvoyance, it seems, was strongest when his bodyguards were present and within earshot of the supposedly bugged conversations.”
So now the Post acknowledged that Spence had “electronic equipment” in his home, even though in the preceding paragraph it had asserted that the bug uncovered by Trotta was, in actuality, a button-release on a table. The Post wanted to have its cake and eat it too by conceding that Spence had electronic equipment in his home, but ridiculing the fact that his home was bugged for blackmail.
And the Post’s remark about Spence’s “clairvoyance” being heightened when his bodyguards were within “earshot” was rather disingenuous too. The Post doesn’t question why Spence had a need for bodyguards. But in all likelihood, Spence needed constant protection, because he was the point man for blackmailing some of the most powerful men in the country—powerful men who almost certainly had access to their own thugs. Given Spence’s penchant for blackmailing the powerful, I think his longevity had the potential to be violently curtailed if his private Praetorian Guard didn’t vigilantly safeguard him.
Later in the article, the Post described Spence’s bodyguards as “clean-cut college guys who also tended bar, parked cars and drove Spence around. Spence later started hiring Army men and Marines, especially large, well-built ones.” I’m aware of Spence collecting bodyguards from the military, but the article made no mention of Spence’s bodyguards being pulled from the ranks of the Secret Service, even though the Washington Times had been meticulous about nailing down that Spence had Secret Service agents moonlighting as his bodyguards.
The Post’s “The Shadow World of Craig Spence” portrayed him as a high society bottom feeder who was more of name-dropper than a powerbroker with high powered connections, and the article also attempted to dispel the notion that he was affiliated with the CIA. The article caricaturized Spence by having his friends discuss his rants of self-importance and name-dropping, which wouldn’t be too difficult because he was a coke-head and megalomaniac. After the Post made Spence appear as a mere cartoon character it dropped in the following paragraph: “Like the tales of espionage, the allegations about bugging were a regular subject of discussion among his friends. And again, they got their information from him [Spence].”
A week after the Washington Post demolished the Washington Times’ reportage on Spence’s illicit activities, I found myself in the Post’s character assassination crosshairs. The Post reported a series of lies that made me appear as a conniving villain who had conspired to cartelize D.C. prostitution as if I were the Richard III of gay escorts.
A later article by the Post conscripted the Los Angeles Times and New York Times to jump on its bandwagon. “’We checked into it; we sent reporters out when they raided the house in February and again when they had the eviction,’ said the Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. ‘We never did turn up with anything that looked like a national story.’”
After the Post quoted the Los Angeles Times bureau chief, the New York Times’ D.C. bureau chief endorsed the Post’s spin. “’I don’t take the Washington Times seriously as a journalistic entity, so I view with suspicion almost anything that they do,’ he said. ‘I don’t deny a raid on this house and that there’s obviously some kind of investigation going on. But so far I haven’t seen any evidence that it means what they say it means.”
In addition to the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post buttressed its propaganda campaign with sources that were delighted to reinforce its disinformation—government sources. The Post wrote of its first government source: “…a key law enforcement official came to lunch at the Post and assured the staff that the investigation was primarily on credit card fraud.” As I recall, several administration officials, including the U.S. attorney general, were telling the media that Watergate was much ado about nothing, so I find it perplexing that the Post was all ears about non-existence of Spence’s blackmail enterprise, but it was vehement when contesting the administration’s official position about Watergate.
The Secret Service, the Justice Department, and the Washington Post did a masterful job of making me a scapegoat for all the illicit activities committed Craig Spence and his cronies. In retrospect, when that much power is deployed to obfuscate the truth, I didn’t have a chance of being anything other than a scapegoat.