Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Trial of Lord Conrad Black of Crossharbour, Part 1: Welcome to the Circus

By Grace

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up! Step right up! Welcome, welcome, welcome to the Media Circus! Dare you step into the tent? Behold feats of daring that will astound and amaze! See creatures that will dazzle and terrify you! You won't believe your eyes.

So, hurry, hurry, hurry! It's a limited engagement, folks, right in the heart of Chicago! Step right up! Come and see the Media Circuuuuuus!

(May not be appropriate for children under the age of ten).


Has anyone
seen the coverage on Conrad Black's upcoming trial recently?

Silly me, of course you have. If you live in Canada or Britain, you've probably been drowned in front-page reports (I swear, if I see another "rise and fall" headline...) - not only of the charges of fraud and tax evasion (among other things), as well as the current jury selection process, but every little aspect of Black's life. From his days at Upper Canada College, expelled for selling stolen exams, to his attempt at regaining the
Canadian citizenship that he once publicly renounced for a British title.

Even his wife, Barbara Amiel-Black, has drawn much attention for her extravagant spending habits; most news items reference a 2002
Vogue article (I actually have a copy of the issue), in which she was quoted as saying, "...I have an extravagance that knows no bounds." Some have alleged that her lust for a lavish lifestyle, and her husband's desire to provide it for her, was one of the reasons that Black had taken the funds from his own company, Hollinger International.

Meanwhile, Black's lawyer, Edward "Fast Eddie" Greenspan, has been
gabbing to the press, much to his own detriment. Yesterday, he told journalists that the U.S. judge, Amy St. Eve, had "certified" him to be "stupid"; St. Eve stated that she had never denounced Greenspan as such and gave him a dressing-down in court. That's trouble already: Greenspan is a well-known Canadian lawyer, but knows little about U.S. law. Strike one. Getting on the wrong side of the judge? Strike two. Oops.

The media certainly has shone a spotlight on this case, but the Blacks and their entourage are making no attempt to move out from under it; in fact, they appear as if they're getting quite comfortable there.

But on the cold, hard evidence of the trial? Well, it's hard to discern what's fact from fiction at this point, but based on statements from employees and shareholders of Black's former media empire, it looks like the Lord of Crossharbour is going to have a difficult fight on his hands.

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