John Dougherty is reporting, through social media, that reliable sources say that Governor Jan Brewer is seriously ill and might not be able to complete a second term in office. Dougherty talks about these claims.
Ted Simons: Governor Jan Brewer's health is being called into question by John Dougherty, an investigative reporter who tried, unsuccessfully, to win this year's democratic nomination for U.S. senate. Dougherty is reporting, through social media, that reliable sources say the governor is seriously ill and might not be able to complete a second term in office. That's something the governor denies. Dougherty also quotes an unnamed source close to the governor's office as saying Brewer recently had a biopsy to test for thyroid cancer. Here to talk about these claims is John Dougherty. Good to see you.
John Dougherty: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: What did you hear about the governor having a possible illness?
John Dougherty: I heard over a span of about three weeks, from several very reliable sources I've known for a considerable period of time that she was ill and there was a possibility she would not be able to finish the next term and that the next -- there could be another succession where the secretary of state became the next governor. The first time I heard it, I stuck it in my file cabinet and said, ok, because I hear a lot of things as a journalists. A ton of things. But then it came back again from a different angle and made me think it's serious nature and at a crucial time that the best way to do this is just to float it out there, that's what I did. I put it out on a facebook tweet with the belief that I felt good it needed to be aired out publicly.
Ted Simons: You answered a couple of questions in the first statement. It was more than one source?
John Dougherty: Yes.
Ted Simons: And at more than one time?
John Dougherty: Yes.
Ted Simons: And when the first source came in, you put it in your file cabinet; the second source, how long did you wait?
John Dougherty: About 48 hours.
Ted Simons: Can you tell us who these sources are?
John Dougherty: No, I cannot disclose my sources. I talked to one of them as early as this morning and encouraged that source to think about it and I'd say -- it would be great if you would step forward. That person needs to make the evaluation how this could impact their life. I'm certainly not going to jeopardize anyone's personal privacy on that issue and as a journalist, you have to protect your sources. This is the type of story where you almost have to have sources, at least in the initial source stages for it to develop, it's an unusual but not one that's out of bounds in journalism.
Ted Simons: Do you think other members of the media knew about these rumors when you first learned about them?
John Dougherty: I don't know. I can't say that. I don't -- I do not know. But I know after the first time I reported it and before I reported it the second time, when I narrowed it down to a thyroid biopsy, other members of the press knew about it.
Ted Simons: Why did you go with this story?
John Dougherty: I believe the public has a right to know if the chief executive officer is possibly suffering from a serious ill. The public has a right to know. It's incumbent on the governor's office to be straight with us, which they've not done. They've not answered simple questions and instead diverted the public's attention.
Ted Simons: If it's that important, why not a blowout piece in a magazine or local broadcast outlet, as opposed to facebook post?
John Dougherty: I'm not affiliated to any of that at this time. To me, the most important thing was to get the information out there and see how it developed and what's developed is astounding as you've reported and many members of the public know. The governor's office reported with a non sequitur. And blasting Terry Goddard and accusing him of being gay from a rumor of 20 years and trashed me saying I'm a person with no credibility and governor comes out and says I'm in perfect health and then we find a photograph where there's a Band-Aid where a biopsy would be performed.
Ted Simons: They're questioning your motives. Ran as a democrat for the United States senate and say you're working with the Goddard campaign and/or Democrats. Are you?
John Dougherty: No, I am not working with any campaign. I did run as a democrat for the United States senate and that's a legitimate criticism. I completely understand that. I wish the situation was reported elsewhere, but I'm the one who has the information and I've released it and it's time for the media to focus not on the person who released the information. Focus on the governor. Ask her: Do you have thyroid cancer. By now, that test taken on the sixth or seventh of October, those results are back. Answer that simple question.
Ted Simons: The governor has been asked and amongst her responses, my health is fine, do you believe her?
John Dougherty: I don't accept that as being an answer to the question: Did you have a thyroid biopsy? Her credibility's been damaged. She told everyone in the country we had beheadings going on in the desert here and stood by that statement. Her handlers, Chuck Coughlin and Doug Cole. This was an important element in the matrix of decision making that I underwent. Chuck Coughlin and Doug Cole, were the apologists for years. I worked with them directly in the early 1990s and they're doing the same thing now, refuse to answer the questions and trash the messenger and what happened. In 1997, Symington resigned as governor. They are employing the same tactics now as they did then.
Ted Simons: When they say these are completely unsubstantiated and malicious rumors and just pure anonymous speculation, I think was a quote, you say --
John Dougherty: The information I had is coming directly out of the ninth floor. The information I have has been corroborated by a photograph that shows the bandage on her throat. Look, if Barack Obama did a press conference with a bandage on his throat, do you think the press corps in Washington would not be going, Mr. President, what's with the bandage? But Brewer goes, what bandage. It's not holding together.
Ted Simons: There are some who say, why should we need to know about the governor's health? To a certain point -- she said her health is fine and she got a checkup beforehand, she said, and the original quote was, be able to complete a four-year term. Why isn't that good enough?
John Dougherty: If we have an indication that an elected official may have cancer, we need to know. Senator John McCain has had cancer for years. Melanoma, which can be a deadly disease. He presented his medical records and we went on with it. In this case, we don't know, they're not disclosing or answering questions. That's troubling. Between the first time I raised the issue apt time I said it was a thyroid biopsy, the governor said in numerous interviews, my health is perfect. It doesn't add up. If she's having tests for cancer, how can it be perfect? The public needs to know. The thyroid biopsy comes at the end of a long series of tests.
Ted Simons: The sources that say it was a thyroid biopsy, same sources for the original story?
John Dougherty: Actually, it's a third source.
Ted Simons: A different source.
John Dougherty: Yeah.
Ted Simons: Last question, you mentioned that the focus seems to be a lot on you as opposed to the governor. Looking back, from everything we've talked about tonight, would you have handled this any differently?
John Dougherty: No, I think this is the way to handle it. I'm not affiliated with any type of news media and the first release was done on a social media site and the reaction from the governor's office was completely over the top and they've continued to refuse to answer the questions. That's where the focus needs to be. The governor needs to sit in this seat with you and have a nice discussion about what's going on and just tell us. That's the biggest issue. Tell us the truth. What's going on with your health? To me, I hope she's ok. I don't have any ill will against her or anybody in this game. But the most important issue is her credibility. She said her health is perfect but there's evidence that something else is going on and enough time has passed to have the thyroid biopsy results. We need to know those results.
Ted Simons: Thanks for being here.
John Dougherty:Investigative Reporter;