Getting at the truth in the Mulroney-Schreiber affair

Harvey Cashore has a new book on the stands about the Airbus Affair.
It’s called : The Truth Shows Up: A Reporter’s Fifteen-Year Odyssey
Tracking Down the Truth About Mulroney, Schreiber and the Airbus

I have reviewed it in the July/August issue of the Literary Review of Canada. Here is a portion of that review:

book is an engaging and instructive roadmap for any aspiring reporter.
And he succeeds in revealing more of the truth behind the story than
anyone else has to date. He takes the reader on a fascinating,
behind-the-scenes journey of a complex journalistic investigation. The
stakes are always high, because at the heart of the story is the
suggestion that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney may have benefited
from commissions paid by Airbus to secure a sale of jets to Air Canada.

secrets held by prime ministers and presidents are rarely, if ever,
fully revealed. Last year, at a speech to the annual conference of the
Investigative Reporters and Editors, legendary Watergate journalist Bob
Woodward described a dinner he recently had with former vice-president
Al Gore. How much does the public know about what really went on in the
Clinton White House, Woodward asked his dinner guest. Gore thought for a
moment before replying: “About one percent.” Add to the equation
potential illegal behaviour on the part of a prime minister, and the
odds for revelation of the truth become far smaller.

When Air
Canada decided to buy 34 jets from Airbus in 1988, Karlheinz Schreiber
received about $500,000 in secret commissions per plane. Reporters with
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine began chasing the story in 1994, and soon
they were in partnership with CBC’s the fifth estate. Cashore was
assigned to research the story for the program, and over the years his
research produced a number of important documentaries and books about
the affair.

Cashore brought with him a specific journalistic
methodology he had learned from his mentor, former newspaper reporter
and author John Sawatsky. In his groundbreaking investigation of the
RCMP security service in the 1970s and 1980s, Sawatsky learned the
importance of taping and transcribing all conversations. By studying his
own questions and the answers they produced, and analyzing the
questions posed by his colleagues and students, Sawatsky deduced that
the quality of information was often directly related to the precise
language employed in the questioning. He came up with a unique
methodology of interviewing, and he stressed the value of maintaining a
chronology of events in every story he worked on. Sawatsky also believed
in maintaining a militant neutrality in his approach, always keeping an
open mind and allowing for disconfirmatory evidence to be heard.

a researcher for Sawatsky’s biography of Mulroney, The Politics of
Ambition, Cashore learned the methodology well and adopted it for his
own inquiries. Much of the book’s rich detail comes in the transcripts
of Cashore’s taped interviews.