Who do you think is lying?
- Roger Clemens is lying here, McNamee is telling the truth.
- Brian McNamee is lying here, Clemens is telling the truth.
- They’re both lying.
- They’re both telling the truth. Clemens has a clone or something.
- I don’t know.
- I don’t know, don’t care, or perhaps don’t really know if I know or care, or not?
Recently there was a Congressional hearing on illegal performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. This was in response to the Mitchell Report, which named several major league players, including Roger Clemens, as having used such performance enhancers. At the hearing were Roger Clemens, his former sports trainer Brian McNamee, and a representative of the Mitchell report investigative staff. The heart of the matter at hand was whether or not the testimony of Brian McNamee was truthful as to Clemens’ use of such drugs.
In the hearing, several interesting points were raised, one of which was from a representative who felt the entire hearing was a waste of government time which should be used for more important matters. I agree with that assessment, and at the same time I think looking at how people judge an issue can be more instructive than the issue itself. Spending millions of taxpayer dollars in an attempt to uncover how widespread drug use in sports is almost certainly a waste of money. That’s a private venture and should be taken care of in-house, not at the expense of the average person.
That said, I found a few things interesting from watching the hearing. First, let’s get some of the obvious things that can be learned from the testimony out of the way:
Roger Clemens doesn’t have a sharp mind for answering questions-- at least not under that kind of pressure. In fact, more often than not his answers made him sound somewhat stupid. Time after time he failed to address the question asked him and rambled on indignantly about something irrelevant, even when the question asked him was clearly a sympathetic one.
Brian McNamee is not a credible witness. He got his credential as a Ph.D from a non-accredited online course, misrepresented himself to MLB and individual players, abused his clients’ fame, and lied several times under oath to avoid prosecution before agreeing to testify as a way to avoid obvious perjuries.
Professional and even amateur sports is full of people who use illegal performance enhancing drugs in order to gain an advantage. Of course, everyone already knew or strongly suspected that, so this is not a surprise.
The Mitchell report is based on fairly good research and its facts and findings can be relied on, but may have some specific details be incorrect.
Now, what is left in doubt is whether or not Roger Clemens ever took Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or steroids. He says he didn’t, McNamee says he did. Nothing in the hearing comes even close to approaching proof, moreover McNamee is an unreliable witness. On the other hand, Brian McNamee did provide other baseball players with such drugs and this testimony was corroborated by those he claimed he injected.
For some people, that’s enough to convince them of Clemens’ guilt. This is what I find interesting. They think McNamee is already ruined, why then would he lie under oath to defame Roger Clemens? First off, you have to ask if Brian McNamee is the kind of person who might lie about something like this. Obviously, yes. The only thing left to ask is why McNamee would want to do this. Would he have any sort of motive? And the answer to this appears in the hearing as well. Yes, he would. He might desire revenge.
During the hearing it was brought up that Brian McNamee’s relationship with Roger Clemens changed when Clemens aired a secretly taped phone conversation revealing personal information about McNamee’s son. McNamee testified that after this he gathered what evidence he had and gave testimony that he injected Clemens with steroids. This is a man who has been shown to lie and has revealed a motive for wanting to hurt Roger Clemens. The fact that he can truthfully testify he gave other athletes such drugs is a perfect opportunity for him to bring down Clemens. Of course, then there’s always the chance of making money on this infamy at a later time.
The man is a proven liar, but his testimony is being believed by many in the public. Of course, there’s one more element to this belief in McNamee’s version of things. That is the testimony of Andy Pettite, friend and teamate of Clemens.
Everyone on record, including Roger Clemens, has said that Andy Pettite is an honest person. When accused of being given HGH by his trainer (also Brian McNamee) Pettite admitted it. Unlike McNamee, Andy Pettite is a credible witness. And he testified very clearly that many years before he had a conversation with Roger Clemens in which Clemens said he had taken steroids. For many of those who believe that Clemens lied at the hearing, this is the main reason. To them, this corroborates McNamee’s story.
But what does his testimony really say? It is hearsay. Clemens did not say that McNamee injected him with HGH. Pettite does not say he witnessed that, or even that he heard that. He says Clemens said he had used steroids several years before.
What does Clemens say about this? Does he think Pettite is lying? No, he says that his friend probably mis-remembered things. Sounds like a poor excuse, but is it really plausible? Do people hear someone say something and think they mean something else? And while Petite might not be likely to mistake what someone said, from his testimony to Congress it’s pretty clear the Roger Clemens is. Clemens might have thought they were talking about a legal drug or an entirely different matter (he suggested some elderly patients taking drugs to improve their quality of life was what he was referring to). Considering Clemens’ seeming inabilty to answer another person’s question, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he thought that’s what they were talking about because that’s what he wanted to talk about.
I find it interesting that years after the first conversation, Pettite asked Clemens about their previous discussion. In this second conversation, Clemens denied saying he had taken HGH and said Pettite must have been mistaken about this. Clemens said Pettite must have misheard and he had been talking about when his wife was injected with HGH before. (According to the timeline, that couldn’t be the case as this incident happened later, but then Clemens might not have been thinking Petite was talking that far back.) In any case, this second conversation does corroborate Clemens’ assertion that Andy Petite misunderstood or misremembers what Clemens had said. At the very least he has been consistent with this since before he was being investigated.
Now, either Clemens is telling the truth, is adamant about his innocence, and his behavior fits in with that perfectly, or he is lying and trying to cover his tracks and his behavior fits perfectly in with that.
What I find interesting is that so many people see the evidence that could point to his guilt, but seem oblivious to how some of that same evidence works to support his innocence. They see McNamee’s total loss of position and reputation as a reason why he wouldn’t lie about Clemens, but don’t see it is a reason why he would have no fear of lying if it cannot be proven he is lying here. They see Andy Pettite’s honest reputation as strength for the affidavit saying Clemens had told him he (Clemens) was taking HGH while not considering that the very same honesty supports the second conversation where Clemens says Pettite must have misunderstood before. Pettite remembers being told he was mistaken about this.
This is not the first time a famous person has been accused of criminal acts and the public gets some of the facts to think about: OJ Simpson. Kobe Bryant. Michael Vic. Each time there was a very large percentage of people who believed they were guilty based on inconclusive evidence. Now Michael Vic is proven guilty and Kobe Bryant is shown to be innocent. OJ Simpson is probably guilty of something, but 9 out of 10 people will swear the trial was unjust when Simpson’s defence at the trial made their case that the evidence was faulty.
This to me makes me think the public is biased in favor of guilt over innocence. Makes it prudent that the justice system is biased in favor of innocence over guilt. I just hope people would be more willing to withold judgement.
(reposted from my blog)