Get A Clue, John


COME ON, JOHN. The Globe proved that you're a pathetic fibber. Don't try yourself to prove that you're a puerile fool.

For John R. Lakian, Westwood millionaire and 1982 GOP gubernatorial candidate, to claim anything other than being blown out of the water after his spurious $50 million libel suit against The Boston Globe is utterly ridiculous.

John, in eight cases out of nine cited his The Globe, you didn't tell the truth. You didn't tell the truth about where you went to graduate school. You didn't tell the truth about receiving a "battlefield promotion" in the Vietnam War You didn't tell the truth about how your father died. You didn't tell the truth about how long you've been affiliated with the Republican Party. You didn't tell the truth about who owns the downtown office building that houses your company. You didn't tell the truth about how soon after leaving Kidder-Peabody in 1971 you formed your own company. You didn't tell me truth about how long it took for you to go through Boston University.

Then once you came to Norfolk County Court, you still didn't tell the truth. We learned that you lied--UNDER OATH, TWICE--in 1975 and 1978 about your bogus Harvard graduate degree. We learned from your ex-wife that your need to boast about this non extent Harvard degree was an addiction, that it was a habit you could not shake.

And on the one case where the jury ruled in your favor--that three of the 55 paragraphs in the August 1982 article were false and published with "knowing or reckless disregard" of their falsity--it was because you answered reporter Walter V. Robinson's questions about the claimed earnings of your company Fort Hill investors, as vaguely as possible.


The first time, when Robinson asked you if you were saying that Fort Hill earned fees of $4 million to $5 million in 1981, the transcript of the tape recorded interview showed that you did not directly answer the question and suggested that $4 million to $5 million was the right number. After Robinson reviewed securities and Exchange Commission records and found that wasn't the case, you backed off, down to $2 million to $3.3 million.

As you admitted to Robinson, all salesmen try to "take 100 and make it sound like 102. Everyone does it." All those, that is, who lie.

Nevertheless, when the verdict came out Monday, you plastered a non-stop smile on your face and went ahead and claimed victory and vindication.

John, the jury didn't award you a single cent of the $50 million you sought. Juror Herbert Lawson of Quincy said the 12 members jokingly considered voting to award you just 25 cents so you could go buy The Globe but rejected that "because of the law and the dignity of the court." They decided not to give you even a single penny.

WHY DON'T YOU listen to what the jurors actually had to say about the verdict--no damages, three paragraphs were knowingly false (thanks largely to you) and two more were false but not libelous:

"I've been mad ever since I saw it on the news last night, when he came out smiling and said he won," said one of the four female jurors, who asked not to be quoted by name.

*"I don't know how Mr. Lakian can claim to have won...The feeling was that since the whole of the article was true, he didn't deserve any compensation," said jury foreman Daniel Masse of Walpole, an electrical engineer.

*"I don't see how they can call our finding libel," said Laurence W. Cranton of Needham.

And consider the comments of libel law experts:

*"This was a defendant's verdict. The libel claim did not prevail"--Victor A. Kovner, chairman of the New York City bar association's communications law committee.

"If there are no damages, then there is no legal harm and no libel. The Globe won the lawsuit"--Floyd Abrams, prominent First Amendment lawyer, who defended The New York Times" in its 1971 Pentagon Pentagon Papers case.

This case was not, as argued by Lakian and his confused Manhattan attorney. Norman Ray Grutman about The Globe's reckless abuse of power and its vicious vendetta against all Republicans. It was about John R. Lakian's chronic problem with telling the whole truth and to continue doing so once the verdict came out that showed that. The Globe was right and Lakian was wrong.

To paraphrase the editorial of one perceptive North Shore newspaper John, you have about as good a conception of what happened in this lawsuit as you do about where you went to graduate school.

Howe, the Senior Editor of The Crimson, is writing for The Globe's business section this summer.