TRUTH MAY NOT BE THE BEST defense, but calling the other guy a liar seems to be the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's response to The Seattle Times' latest multi-part investigative effort to land a Pulitzer. Faced with a slew of damning articles, evidence, and anecdotes, the Hutch is labeling them libelous and "blatantly false." Whatever the courts think of such charges, several other recent subjects of Times stories are now adapting the FHCRC strategy.
Says Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, "What riot? There wasn't any Mardi Gras riot down in Pioneer Square. It's just those damn reporters at the Times making things up again."
Of the recent coaching turmoil in Key Arena, an indignant Paul Westphal declares, "I am still coach of the Seattle Sonics, no matter what lies you read in the Times. Also, we took the Pacific Division this season."
Despite front-page reports, Mayor Paul Schell decries what he calls "shamelessly irresponsible journalism in which the Times invented out of whole cloth some specious, fictional earthquake that allegedly jolted our fair city. This kind of reckless disregard for the truth is dangerously misleading to shoppers and tourists alike."
Locally, KING TV weatherman Jeff Renner voices similar criticism about the Times forecasts, which have shown sunny skies for most of the winter. "What kind of dishonest meteorology is this?" he asks. "Anyone can look outside and see that it's been raining all winter."
From Amazon's Beacon Hill headquarters, CEO Jeff Bezos adds to the chorus of outrage, saying, "How many Seattle Times falsehoods must we endure? Contrary to all the nonsense they write about us, sales are ahead of projections, we're hiring employees, and we just bought Wal-Mart. In fact, our stock is going great—just like the Nasdaq!"
All-star shortstop Alex Rodriguez states, "Don't believe that mierda you read in the Times. I'm still with the Mariners. I play this game for love, not money. I'd never leave town."
In a succinct press release, Sen. Patty Murray states, "No matter what untruths the Times may run in its pages, I am not a dwarf."
"You just can't trust the Times," grouses embittered veteran columnist Emmett Watson. "I mean, I write for the goddamn paper, but those lying bastards still keep printing that I'm dead."