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Interview With "Remorseful" Water Researcher Is a Prize Catch

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As a Mother Jones blog headline put it yesterday, "McInnis [is] in hot water."

You know that's the case when, as a reporter, you have so much material to investigate, you don't know where to go first. That's where things stand this morning.

But among the unwritten articles out there, perhaps one of the biggest is the story of McInnis's research assistant, Rolly Fischer, whom the candidate is blaming for the plagiarism in those once-elusive water articles.

Here's what McInnis told 7News yesterday:

"I had staff assistance, I had research, and as you know, the research - that's where the problem is here," McInnis said.

"But who wrote the articles?" Ferrugia asked.

"Well, I had staff assistance and I edited the articles, they went in under my name," McInnis said. "Well, I edited them but I didn't run them through a check to see if they, I mean, from our expert, Rollie, you know he's an expert in water for three or four decades. So I took what he said at face value." "I had staff assistance, I had research, and as you know, the research - that's where the problem is here," McInnis said.

"But who wrote the articles?" Ferrugia asked.

"Well, I had staff assistance and I edited the articles, they went in under my name," McInnis said. "Well, I edited them but I didn't run them through a check to see if they, I mean, from our expert, Rollie, you know he's an expert in water for three or four decades. So I took what he said at face value."

Later McInnis told KHOW's Caplis and Silverman that Fischer was "remorseful" and "sick about this."

McInnis said:

No I had a research assistant. And he was 29 or 30 years as the head of the Colorado Water Conservation District. He was an expert on water. Great guy. He feels very remorseful about this. He is sick about this.

Trouble is, both McInnis statements about Fischer, that he's responsible and remorseful, don't look to reflect what Fischer himself is thinking.

Yesterday Fischer told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, "Scott's responsible for it."

That doesn't sound like a guy who's taking responsibility for something he's sorry about. It sounds like a guy who needs his full story to be told.

At this point, I think landing the interview with Fischer is the biggest journalistic catch to be made, in a sea of water where there's plenty of stuff to catch (and we're not talking catch-and-release here).

Trouble is, landing the interview with Fischer won't be easy for reporters.

When the Denver Post went to his home yesterday in Glenwood Springs, Fischer told a Post reporter, "I don't trust the press." (Coincidentally, McInnis has been awfully hostile to the press himself, refusing to discuss his plagiarism with the Post and, during the campaign, dissing journalism generally.)

So it's going to take some work to get Fischer to tell his story, which deserves to be told. Maybe a blogger is the right person for the job? Someone who's not a journalist.