Monday, April 30, 2007

What Names -- if Any -- will air on 20/20's Of DC Madam Piece?

ABC did NOT buy the DC Madam's Phone records (We reported it wrong: Apologies). And, apparently, there was no sex involved, just "fantasies." Howard Kurtz excavates the underlying ethical substratum -- Eew -- of the story (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). From CNN's Reliable Sources (link via FishbowlDC):

"KURTZ: Jeane Palfrey originally talked about selling her list of clients to a tabloid outfit and then obviously, ABC News does not pay for information. Why did she decide to cooperate with you?

"ROSS: We told her that we would take it seriously, that it was a potentially important story. Her point is that she runs an operation that she claims offered no sex. And that she sees it as hypocritical that the government is going after her and the women who worked for her and not the men. The phone lists were in her home when the Federal agents raided it. But they were not interested in apparently the names of the men, only the women who worked for her. So she thinks that it is hypocritical. Secondly, she wants to call some of these men to testify on her behalf. She's turned down a deal, a plea bargain deal from the government and wants to go to trial.

"KURTZ: I should have mentioned at the top she's under indictment and as you say, she apparently plans to go to trial. If a government official pays for this kind of service personally and has nothing to do with his job, is there at least an argument that it's not news worthy and shouldn't be reported?

"ROSS: Well, I think there -- I think it is news worthy that there is this indictment. It's part of a Bush administration effort under the Department of Justice to crack down on prostitution and this is part of it. Tobias in particular, given his role as spearheading the Bush administration effort overseas to crack down on prostitution, seemed to us to be news worthy.

"KURTZ: You are faced with a list of names. You say some of them are fairly prominent people, from not just the government but different walks of life. Is this a dilemma for you as to how far you should push your reporting?

"ROSS: The reporting is -- we want to know all we can know and then the decision has to be made as to what information we'll actually use on the air next week on '20/20' or on 'World News'. We actually hadn't made the decision about Tobias and he didn't ask me whether we're going to name him. I guess he just assumed that.

"KURTZ: As of now, you are planning on reporting the story on Friday on '20/20.'

"ROSS: '20/20' and on other ABC outlets, 'Good Morning America' and 'World News' and on the ABC News blotter."

(CNN's Reliable Sources)

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