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"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"

Sen. Arlen Specter: Novak column was a malicious attack on ‘revered' staffer
The Union Leader
By Sen. ARLEN SPECTER Guest Commentary August 04, 2005

THE ROBERT NOVAK syndicated column dated July 21 libeled Ms. Bettilou Taylor, who is one of the most respected, really revered, staffers after serving 16 years in the United States Senate. During that time, she has been my top aide on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, which I chair. For her superb work in assisting in allocating $146 billion among important social programs, many, including senators, call her Sen. Taylor.

The Novak column falsely and maliciously accuses her of conflict of interest by orchestrating a hearing to grill Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) while her husband consulted for the Association of Public Television Stations.

The hearing was my idea. As chairman of the subcommittee which provides funding for the CPB, I had to decide whether earlier proposed cuts in the House were warranted and whether the Senate should add $35 million for digitalization programs and $40 million for a new satellite system. Had the Novak column taken the time to call me, the defamation could have been avoided; or, at least, the other side given.

I know something about investigations, perhaps even about investigative reporting, which, as a matter of basic fairness, involves talking to both sides to find the facts.

When Mr. Tomlinson requested a pre-hearing meeting with me, I agreed although it is relatively rare to take the time to do that because of our crowded schedule. I listened to his views and previewed the questions I intended to ask him, something I customarily do not do. Contrary to the Novak column's minimizing Tomlinson's expenditure of $25,000 for lobbying when a telephone call from Tomlinson could have avoided that expenditure, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting can make better use of its limited funds and obviously tight budget.

The Novak column says, "Sen. Arlen Specter, a busy man with multiple duties, was understandably unprepared on July 11 as he chaired a rare Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing about public television.' The Novak column is wrong again. The word "unprepared' is not in my vocabulary. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing "understandable' about being unprepared.

I am used to the criticism but it is inexcusable to defame a dedicated, well-respected public servant like Bettilou Taylor.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R.-Pa., is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and numerous subcommittees.