Here's a transcript from Tom Fiedler's interview on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer (via Romenesko) about the Miami Herald's doing nothing after receiving some of the damning Mark Foley e-mail exchanges with a teen Congressional page months ago. Here's a telling quote:
"But, again, in the context in which we received it and in which we were looking at it, it seemed although perhaps disquieting -- or to use Speaker Hastert's phrase, it appeared overly friendly -- it certainly wasn't so overtly sexual in nature
that I think you would immediately connect it to pedophilia."
Fiedler is falling back on Denny Hastert just as Hastert is using the do-nothing newspapers as an excuse for himself. Anybody but an editor for a major corporate newspaper could have looked at that first set of e-mails and seen that Foley, who was known to be gay, was was trolling for the boy. The proof is in the way the story spread like wildfire after Brian Ross reported only that first set of e-mails that the Herald and St. Pete Times were given.
But Fiedler knew it would be a huge story -- and that, ironically, is one reason he held it:
"... I'm not proud to say this -- but we felt that the story was of such a potentially explosive nature of the kind that would have created a stain had Congressman Foley been innocent that we thought it best not to pursue it unless something further developed."
At least he's not proud. Don't let the people decide, just censor the informati0n, which was clearly a news story (Fiedler admits that his newspaper knew the page board was aware of Foley's e-mails and had "cautioned" the congressman about them).
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Why? Why did the newspaper protect Foley from being "stained"? More from Fiedler:
"... we probably erred on the side of giving the benefit of the doubt to Congressman Foley, perhaps because our relationship with Congressman Foley, going back many years, had always been a very open one, probably, in fact, a fairly positive one."
Open? In what way? In the way that Foley agreed not to be open about his sexuality even as he was a prominent member of a political party that openly disparaged and verbally bashed gays and lesbians? In the way that he called newspapers' asking about his sexual identity "revolting"? This is a bizarre explanation ... and scary ... and more reason for Fiedler to step down. Today.
But I will say this: The interview, ironically, is also evidence of the fact that Fiedler is a good man when he's not got the corporate strings pushing and pulling him. This is as honest an interview as you're going to read about a major breakdown in journalistic judgment from a metro daily.