Sen. Alfonse D'Amato angrily denied Sunday that he refused to be interviewed for a CBS "60 Minutes" report on his career, accusing the long-running program with having more interest in "show business" than news.
D'Amato was responding to a "60 Minutes" segment - hours before it was to be broadcast - that contained accusations of wrongdoing that are being investigated by a Brooklyn grand jury and the Senate Ethics Committee.The segment aired Sunday night.
D'Amato made his comments Sunday morning at a Manhattan hotel, where he received a "Defender of Freedom" award from the Emunah Women of America, a religious Zionist group. The senator has been a staunch defender of Israel.
D'Amato vehemently insisted that he had agreed to be interviewed by the segment's correspondent, Mike Wallace, but only live and unedited, a condition the network rejected.
"To have Mike Wallace claim as he does that I refused to be interviewed is a damnable lie," said D'Amato. "I spoke to him on at least three occasions, and I said . . . to him repeatedly I was willing to go on live and unedited."
A spokesman for the show said D'Amato hung up on Wallace, ending the third conversation.
The "60 Minutes" report covered the Housing and Urban Development scandal, where D'Amato allegedly used his clout to obtain subsidized housing for a relative and others, and an appearance as a character witness for Philip Basile, who was convicted for conspiracy in trying to gain the release from prison of a mobster.
"The broadcast pulls together various elements on the embattled senator's career," said a "60 Minutes" spokesman, Roy Brunett, who said D'Amato was offered an opportunity to address accusations in an interview.
"We do not grant live interviews," Brunett said, adding that show has not done so in its 22-year history to his recollection.