Take this week’s story of baseball great Roger Clemens (pictured above, left).
DAY ONE - In a story Monday in the New York Daily News, he was accused of having an affair with country singer Mindy McCready for ten years. At the time, he was married and father to two boys. He’s still married and now has four boys.
And it gets worse. The accusations – from “people with intimate knowledge” – are that the affair started when he was 28 and playing for the Boston Red Sox and when McReady was a mere 15.
I have no idea if any of this is true – but I cannot imagine how hard this week has been for his wife of so many years, Debbie – and his four sons. And the fact that the article that broke this “news” is based entirely on anonymous sources makes it hard to digest.
I’ve been a 48 Hours producer for ten years. I completely understand the need and importance of anonymous sources. They can give you information and lead you in directions you may not have known about otherwise. They can be extremely valuable.
One of my good friends and fellow bloggers, Vanessa Leggett, went to federal jail to protect her sources. I’ve always felt this was among the most courageous things I’ve ever witnessed. But Vanessa has dozens and dozens of sources to back up the book she’s writing about River Oaks bookie Bob Angleton – only some of them are anonymous, and she’s checked every one of those out to the hilt.
When it’s a story like this – one that could destroy someone’s life, not to mention his children’s – there should be at least one legitimate, reliable source who will go on the record to tell the story. Especially when it appears on the front page of a New York City newspaper – which will then spread like wildfire around the country to every other paper and evening news show by the end of the day.
DAY TWO - Clemens, through his lawyer, vehemently denies the charges of the affair. He says McCready was a close family friend – but that they were never intimate. But McCready, “tearful but resolute,” according to a Nashville newspaper, said she couldn’t deny anything in the original NY Daily News article. Not a great day for the Rocket. Except that McCready has had a tumultuous past -- so she might not necessarily be credible, either.
He said/she said stories are the hardest to cover – and the hardest for authorities to investigate. Our WCI blog is based on crime – and, if this story is true, it should be considered a crime against Clemens' wife and children, all obvious victims. But there could have been real crimes committed, especially if McCready really was only 15 when the alleged affair began. It’s possible that Clemens could be charged with that even now – in Texas, the statute of limitations extends ten years from the age when someone becomes legal, which is age 18.
And, as everyone in the country likely knows at this point, Clemens is dealing right now with other criminal allegations – namely that he used steroids over the years to enhance his baseball performance and that he lied about it under oath to Congress.
None of us know what -- if anything -- Roger Clemens is guilty of. But I’m inclined to think the bigger “crime” is that of throwing allegations out into the public arena without the proof to back them up. This affair very well might be true. But once the allegations are out there, it doesn’t really matter. The harm to him and – more importantly – to his family is already done. By the time the truth comes out, if it ever does, it will have become secondary to his ruined reputation.
My boyfriend keeps saying “poooooooor Roger” -- I’d counter with poor Roger’s family. And poor any of us who might happen to be in the public eye, making you ripe for allegations, true or not.