Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
One of the federal prosecutors who was under investigation for the botched Ted Stevens case in Alaska apparently committed suicide over the weekend.
Multiple press outlets reported yesterday that Nicholas A. Marsh killed himself. How do we know that Marsh, 37, took his own life? Karl Rove's lawyer said so.
News of Marsh's suicide has spread around the country based solely on the word of Robert Luskin, a high-powered, Washington, D.C., lawyer. Luskin, of the firm Patton Boggs, represented Marsh in the Stevens investigation. He also has represented Karl Rove and helped ensure that the former Bush White House strategist would not have to testify under oath about his role in possible political prosecutions of well-known Democrats, such as Don Siegelman in Alabama and Paul Minor in Mississippi.
The Marsh death appears to be a legal story, a political story, and a personal tragedy. But it's also a story of ghastly journalism.
NPR apparently broke the news of Marsh's death with a report yesterday morning. Several Web sites, including TPM Muckraker and mainjustice.com, quickly followed up. The Washington Post had a piece on one of its blogs, and Associated Press spread the news around the country.
As the story developed, almost no reporter seemed to ask this obvious question: How do we know that Nicholas Marsh committed suicide? Unless Robert Luskin moonlights as a coroner, he certainly is not qualified to make that determination. So why are we taking his word for it?