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Determined denial (cont.)

Posted: Sunday January 6, 2008 10:49PM; Updated: Monday January 7, 2008 12:05PM
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There was other news from the interview: Clemens told Wallace he would "probably" not play again and that McNamee had called him prior to the release of the Mitchell Report to ask about fishing in Cabo. Footage showed Clemens working out with McNamee, which gave viewers some added insight into the relationship. (In a voiceover, Wallace said McNamee declined to talk to 60 Minutes). Not surprisingly, Clemens did not deviate from his on-mound persona. Wearing a purple dress shirt and drinking water throughout the interview, Clemens was angry and defiant, a strategy most crisis communication experts would have advised: You do not deviate from your long-established reputation.

Where Wallace came up short was in not pressing Clemens. He did not follow up on why McNamee injected Clemens with Lidocaine, and B12. Most glaringly, he did not press Clemens about his longtime friend Andy Pettitte, who validated McNamee's account regarding Pettitte's growth-hormone use. "Why would Brian McNamee tell the truth about Andy Pettitte and lie about you? Wallace asked. "Andy's case is totally separate," said Clemens. "I was shocked to learn about Andy's situation. Had no idea about it."

There was no follow-up question, and there needed to be. Clemens has long claimed Pettitte as the Tonto to his Lone Ranger, a relationship not fully explained to viewers on Sunday. To characterize Wallace as sympathetic to Clemens would be unfair, but there was a clear distinction between he and Logan in terms of aggressiveness. (CBS declined to make Wallace available to SI.com after Sunday's broadcast.)

The fabled primetime news magazine has been a bit soft on athletes in recent years. The late Ed Bradley's interview with Tiger Woods was more infomercial than informative. Recent interviews with Tom Brady and Derek Jeter revealed little, though CBS might not be at fault with the always-vanilla Jeter. Katie Couric pressed Alex Rodriguez on his contract situation, but never broached tabloid accusations of an extramarital affair on camera. Clemens clearly cherry-picked his interviewer, and it's important to note that such things also happen in the print world. It is up to each news organization to decide when a reporter's personal relationship with a subject compromises the integrity of an interview. CBS decided they wanted the Clemens interview, a sure-fire ratings bonanza, and so Wallace was the network's man, even if the man is a frequent habitant in Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's suite and a self-admitted friend of Clemens.

This will not be Clemens' last interview. He is scheduled to face reporters in Houston on Monday. Then comes Jan. 16 where Clemens and Pettitte have been asked to testify before the House Oversight committee, along with their former trainer. Set your DVR: If everyone shows up -- and call us skeptical at this juncture -- that's can't-miss television.

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