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Miami Herald Comes Clean A Little

Okay, now I'm upset. Turns out the Miami Herald had those Mark Foley e-mails, too, and also showed great deference to the congressman by not bothering to do a story about it. But I'm not upset that the Herald didn't run the story -- I'm upset that we didn't get a copy of the damn things.

But it started as a longshot. The things were obviously dissemenated at the national level from Washington. New Times and Village Voice Media doesn't have a Washington-based reporter. (I'm really beginning to think it should).

Anyway, here's what Tom Fiedler said in Lesley Clark's story:

Hastert noted that the same e-mails were viewed by editors at The St. Petersburg Times, which reviewed them, considered them ''friendly chit chat'' and declined to run a story.

Miami Herald Executive Editor Tom Fiedler said Sunday the newspaper also saw the same e-mails and ''didn't feel there was sufficient clarity in the e-mails to warrant a story.

''We determined after discussion among several senior editors, including myself, that the content of the messages was too ambiguous to lead to a news story,'' Fiedler said.

So the Herald blew the story, too. And for anyone who might argue that the first set of e-mails wouldn't have warranted an article, consider the splash that Brian Ross's initial report (which was about only that first set) around the country. Again, bad news judgment and a quick trigger to give the benefit of the doubt to a congressman over a page.

Bad journalism. And isn't it ironic that now the Republican House Leadership' s best argument that it did nothing wrong is to look at paralyzed editors and say, "See, they didn't think it was a big deal, either." It's sadly poetic in some way, like a song that mourns death.

And the magnitude of the story should have warranted its own headline. Looks like the Herald wants to get out of this on the cheap. Sorry about your luck, because judging from the way things are shaping up so far, this is not something that will go gently into that good night. Like it or not, the Times and the Herald are intertwined in federal investigation. Who's going to be next? Did the leakers of the e-mails not even bother with the Foley-loving, sex-scared Palm Beach Post?

Damn this interesting.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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