Tuesday, August 19, 2008

John Drescher's resignation?

There is no excuse for a newspaper missing a scoop in its backyard:
About 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, former Sen. Edwards reached me on my office phone.
Earlier that day, while campaigning in South Carolina, Edwards denied a report in The National Enquirer that he had an affair with an unnamed woman who once worked in his campaign.
In the newsroom, we debated whether to run Edwards' comments about the Enquirer story in the next day's print edition.
Debate? What's to debate? True or false, the Enquirer story was important. If it was false, then your state's former senator was the object of a disgusting smear. If it was true, well ... But Edwards' denial was news, either way. Listen to the pathetic reasoning of Charlotte News & Observer editor John Drescher:
By the time Edwards called, we had decided not to publish the story in the Friday paper. But Edwards didn't know that. I wanted to hear what he had to say. We still could have reversed our decision. . . .
He said The N&O was the paper that arrived on his doorstep every day, the one read by friends of him and his wife, Elizabeth.
He said he'd never called before to complain or state his case. Given Elizabeth's health -- she has cancer -- he said it was especially important to him that the story not run in The N&O.
He was calling from an airport, and we spoke only a few minutes. I made no promises.
Edwards' comments were off the record. Because he has acknowledged he lied, I feel free to report them.
My God. The man was running for President of the United States and is by definition a public figure. You're going to let him pressure you not even to report that he has denied an accusation? And you only feel you can report this now "because he has acknowledged he lied"?

The man lied, period. The Enquirer's story was right, and your decision not to publish the denial was wrong. In fact, allowing yourself to be scooped by a supermarket tabloid on a major scandal involving a local politician is a scandal in its own right, and an indictment of the news judgment of Drescher and his staff.

1 comment:

  1. Raleigh News & Observer. Not Charlotte. Different backyard.