Former U.S. Attorney-Turned-Congressional Candidate, To Talk Radio Host: I Could Sue You For Defamation


Mary Beth Buchanan, a former Bush-era U.S. Attorney who is now running for Congress in Pennsylvania against Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire, may need to work on how she handles criticism of her tenure in office. Buchanan called into the radio show of local talker Marty Griffin, and apparently threatened him with a defamation suit.

Griffin had just hosted Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist, former Allegheny County Coroner, and prominent Pittsburgh-area Democrat, who had been prosecuted for alleged corruption by Buchanan. Democrats had accused Buchanan of launching a political prosecution — the announcement of the charges had come close to the 2006 election, and became a data point in the U.S. Attorney scandals of late 2006 and early 2007. The charges were ultimately dropped.

During his interview, Wecht alleged that the case had cost $20 million to prosecute. Buchanan called in to take serious exception to this, saying that it could have only been $500,000 at most – and told Griffin that he better get his facts right. “And you know, we still have defamation laws in this country. And to the extent that you keep repeating things are flat-out wrong, you’re running afoul. That case could not have cost the government more than $500,000, and that’s on the outside.”“So you’re saying you’re going to sue me?” Griffin replied. “Is that what you’re saying, Mary Beth, because Dr. Wecht and others are suggesting? So you’re gonna run for Congress, and you’re threatening to sue me because we’re suggesting that the case cost $20 million?”

“I’m saying that you have to know what you’re talking about before you start repeating things,” Buchanan replied.

Griffin challenged Buchanan to provide information on the salaries of all the people who had worked on the case, saying that he didn’t believe it was only $500,000. Which led to this amusing exchange:

Griffin: Are you gonna answer my question?

Buchanan: I am answering your question, if you would shut up and let me talk.

Griffin: Oh, so this is how you’re gonna run? Telling people to shut up and threatening them with lawsuits?

Buchanan: Listen, if you want the facts, I’m here to give them to you. If you hear want to hear yourself talk, then why do you even invite people to come on and be guests?

Griffin: Go ahead, Mary Beth.

Buchanan: Okay, thank you.

Griffin: You sound very defensive to me. It’s a long road, Mary Beth, to run for office. This is just the beginning. This is just your toe in the water.

Believe it or not, they both seemed to have cooled down at least somewhat by the end of the interview, and Griffin invited Buchanan to appear on the show again.