Nacchio's hired gun fires a blank
By Al Lewis,
Sunday, August 6, 2006
One reason why ex-Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio wants his insider
trading trial moved to New Jersey is me.
"Al Lewis, as the business columnist for The Post, was a
major architect of the very hostile stories in The Post,"
wrote Edward Bronson, a hired witness for Nacchio and a
renowned expert on how pre-trial publicity may prejudice
"... He did so, often with inflated rhetoric that was
sometimes inflammatorily hostile to Mr. Nacchio," Bronson
wrote in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Denver
Bronson is a California State University professor emeritus
with a 14-page curriculum vitae. He holds a doctorate from
the University of Colorado, and degrees from the University
of Denver and New York University. He was a Fulbright
scholar. And he's been an expert witness on change-of-venue
motions in 115 cases, including Enron, the Oklahoma City
bombing, the Unabomber, and the American Taliban.
He contends Coloradans have been contaminated with Nacchio
news, and that the trial should be moved to ensure an
unbiased jury. To reach this conclusion, Bronson reviewed
1,408 articles in Denver newspapers from 2000 to the
Of cases he's worked on, he said, only Enron and two
Oklahoma City bombing trials generated more pre-trial
I wrote only a tiny fraction of these articles, but somehow
my name keeps coming up in Bronson's analysis:
"Lewis wrote in an article headlined, 'Qwest execs' quest
for cash is embarrassing,' ... 'Our local phone company is
on a Qwest, all right; to stuff the pockets of its board
members and executives with obscene piles of cash."
I wrote these words in 2001. Readers, please circle the
word that best describes them: Hostile. Inflammatory.
"In the year of 2004 ... there was another attack by
columnist Al Lewis. In a column titled, 'Qwest, lies and
videotape,' Lewis re-recounts ... the videotape Joe Nacchio
had made at Qwest about business ethics. Lewis comments
that Nacchio's 'oratory is so persuasive, viewers will want
a thesaurus to see if "Qwest" is listed as another word for
"Lewis concluded that Nacchio's performance in teaching
ethics was 'pure comic genius ... full of irony."'
Bronson also complained that I mentioned Nacchio's handcuffs
five times in a Dec. 21 piece following his indictment.
"Apparently, this was not televised or photographed and
surely not seen by prospective jurors, but the prejudice has
long been recognized by the courts. Reporting it seems like
gratuitous bias introduced by Mr. Lewis."
Now, I'm no Fulbright scholar, but I think prospective
jurors can safely assume that indictments are generally
followed by handcuffs.
"The nature of the media coverage of Mr. Nacchio and Qwest
is no more about the actual charges ... than the trial of Al
Capone was about income tax evasion."
Bronson also seemed to argue that I portrayed Nacchio as a
"Al Lewis ... observed that "Nacchio wears a dark,
pin-striped suit, his eyes sheltered behind wire-rimmed
glasses, his New York accent ... "
Dark, pin-striped suits are standard issue for CEOs. Many
CEOs have New York accents. And wire-rimmed glasses are
more for geeks than gangsters. But Bronson goes on: "In a
headline for his column, Mr. Nacchio 'tawks,' adding that
Nacchio's Italian heritage and East Coast attitude is
straight out of Brooklyn.' 'He tawks like Joe Pesci in
I try to avoid ethnic jokes in my column. So I knew this
material was not mine. It came from a Post article that ran
on July 7, 2000, long before I ever penned a Post column.
This article was actually a flattering piece on Nacchio,
noting a profile on him in Forbes magazine. The
"Goodfellas" stuff came from Forbes, and was only quoted in
the Post article.
Bronson declined an interview, but he apologized to me in an
e-mail: "The quote and headline I attributed to you was not
in a column you wrote, but it did appear in the Denver Post
as I said in my affidavit. ... and it's written in columnist
style. I'm sorry about that error."
Apology accepted. But one more thing, for Bronson's
records: I'm not the one who brought up Al Capone, either.
Al Lewis' column appears
Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Respond to Lewis at
denverpostbloghouse.com/lewis, 303-820-1967 or