In a blog entitled "Is KHOW's Craig Silverman Giving Tips to CU's Attorney in the Ward Churchill Trial?," I referenced two blog posts (click here and here to read them) from WardChurchillTrial, a pro-Churchill website that's been tracking the progress of the prof's wrongful termination lawsuit against the University of Colorado at Boulder, which enters the closing-argument phase today. These items suggested that KHOW talk-show host Craig Silverman, a lawyer by training, had given CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke a document highlighting controversial remarks Churchill had made in the past and encouraged him to share them with the jury. The piece concluded with the line, "I've made a request to interview Silverman on this subject. Look for a new item when he responds."
I had to wait quite a while. I sent an e-mail to two different Silverman addresses and corresponded with his producer, Brad Lopez, who promised to share my interview request with him at an 11 a.m. meeting. But I didn't hear from Silverman until 4:44 p.m., during the afternoon-drive program he shares with fellow lawyer Dan Caplis -- and the e-mail he sent could hardly have been more succinct. "Responded to all your questions on the air," he wrote. "Yesterday, last week and today." He then asked the rhetorical question, "Shockjock?" -- a reference to a description in the first blog linked above.
In truth, Silverman couldn't have responded to my questions, because I hadn't posed any. Instead, I merely noted that I wanted to speak with him about issues raised by the aforementioned blogs.
Moreover, Silverman's discussion of the subject on the air yesterday -- at least the portion of it I was able to find online -- was so vague and amorphous that most listeners wouldn't have known to what he was referring. The conversation in question took place during the 4 p.m. hour of the March 31 show, which can be downloaded from this page; find it about fourteen minutes from the start of the MP3. Here's a transcript of the key passage:
Dan talked about sending that [a recording of especially controversial Churchill comments] to CU years ago. I made sure CU had that available during the end of this trial. I don't want their excuse to be, "Oh, we've never listened to your show. We didn't know." Put it out there. Told them what to do. For whatever reason, they chose not to do it. Maybe Pat O'Rourke is a genius here. Maybe he's going to win, and I'll salute him. He's clearly a smart guy. And I don't know why they didn't call Ward Churchill and confront him with the sound you just heard, especially when the door was open wide...
Most talk-show hosts criticize individuals for declining to appear on the radio to debate items of interest -- so it's plenty curious that Silverman seems so timid about talking about this subject in this forum. In an attempt to slice through his shyness, I replied to his e-mail with the following note, written before I heard yesterday's on-air allusion:
Thanks for getting back to you. I heard part of your show yesterday, but nothing pertaining to my questions, which I haven't had a chance to pose to you directly thus far. They are:
Have you been providing tips and advice to Patrick O'Rourke on a personal, one-to-one basis, as opposed to simply talking about the case on the air?
If so, have you talked about that on the air?
On Monday, did you give O'Rourke a document featuring controversial statements made by Ward Churchill and encourage him to read them shortly before he did so?
If so, did you talk about that specific action on the air?
If you haven't shared this specific information with your listeners, do you feel you have any obligation to do so? If not, why not?
Because you're a commentator, not a journalist, and because you have been on record as feeling that Churchill deserves to lose his wrongful termination lawsuit, do you feel that advice and counsel offered to the CU legal team is perfectly justifiable?
Do you see any such advice as an extension of the opinions you've been broadcasting in recent weeks?
Are there any other questions you feel that I should have asked on this topic, and that you would like to answer?
Please get back to me as soon as possible. I hope to publish a blog on this topic today...
Thanks for your time.
Michael Roberts Westword Denver, CO April 1, 2009
If and when Silverman responds, I'll share his comments. But I'm not holding my breath.