The Spectacle Blog

On Cox and Snow Together

By on 7.18.08 | 10:47AM

In my post yesterday on Chris Cox's actions on short selling, in the penultimate paragraph, I wrote of an experience back in 1993 where I and Bob Livingston worked closely with Cox on a small matter that gave me a window into Cox's views on short selling. Amazingly, today I run across a blog by a guy who doesn't agree with that position, but who otherwise tells very accurately the rest of the story. I also wrote last week about how I first met Tony Snow because a top aide in Livingston's office was a friend and neighbor of Tony's. What I didn't write was that it was through this episode, described by this blogger, that I met Tony. It was this blogger who wrote the study that prompted Tony to write the story that prompted Livingston and me to follow up with Tony for more details and then start the little investigation that began with four congressmen and ended up basically with just Cox and Livingston leading it.

We actually unearthed some serious evidence that Hillary Clinton had good reason to know she would profit from her jihad against the pharmaceutical companies, but not in a way that was demonstrably illegal. But the tawdriness of her actions was missed by the public as a result of an errant (and rather unimportant) footnote in our report that mistakenly assumed a document was referring to Hillary's hedge fund, Value Partners, when instead the Hillary allies claimed that it was referring to the "value of the partnership," or something like that. Of course, the media, especially Newsweek, ignored the absolutely rock solid rest of the report (which soberly laid out the facts and made no extravagant claims) and seized on the errant footnote as if the footnote's side point were the key claim in our report, in order to dismiss the whole report as unreliable. But the truth was that Hillary was indeed part of a tightly held hedge fund group (I think I remember that the only three partners were Hillary, Webb Hubbell, and Vince Foster) that was short selling pharmaceutical stocks rather heavily just as Hillary's health care task force, and her public statements, were attacking the pharmaceutical companies and driving their stock price down.

The hedge fund manager did indeed report those shorted positions to the White House (and we think to Foster specifically) BEFORE Hillary's public anti-pharmaceutical statements. Tony Snow's column on it was absolutely correct in its essentials, and the little Livingston-Cox report on it was absolutely right, and Cox did a friggin' brilliant job explaining it all on TV -- again, in measured tones and terms -- before the errant footnote got in the way. And it was in the course of the lengthy meetings on the subject, sometimes with just Cox and one aide of his and Livingston and me in the room, that I saw first-hand the power of Cox's mind and also his essential fairness and thoroughness and decency. It was also during all of that that I first got to know Tony Snow a little bit, and found him to be the wonderful, generous human being who has so rightly been praised and missed so deeply by so many this week.

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