Reader Reaction to The Post's Coverage
Sunday, March 15, 1998; Page C05
The following e-mails were edited for publication, with the authors' permission, from the many sent to The Post's ombudsman:
I'm disturbed by the lead story today [March 5] about the sealed deposition of President Clinton. Somebody must have seen the deposition. What worries me about the story is that there is [a] very passing reference to the sources. Everything has been leaked and compromised [so] that it's difficult for those of us who try to be open-minded and try to figure out what's going on, to know where things have come from. I thought the deposition was sealed. I know it's news, but when The Post does this, they owe the reader an explanation of how they got this information.
One thing in The Post coverage of President Clinton's deposition for the Paula Jones case seriously troubles me. The very long and otherwise comprehensive March 5 article fails to mention that The Post's source, who provided all the data on which the article was based, is in evident contravention of the judge's gag order, and thus behaving illegally. The follow-up coverage on March 6 soft-pedaled this matter. That is intellectually dishonest.
It entices the reader to overlook questions that may reflect on the accuracy of the information. How complete was the information furnished by the source(s)? Was there any slant to the information provided? Was there any significance to the timing of the information release? What might be the motivations of the source(s)?
I am curious to see how The Washington Post investigates the flagrant violation of U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright's gag order. The leaks of the alleged contents of the president's deposition in the Paula Jones case surely deserve investigation. Yet how will The Post mount any sort of credible investigation since The Post is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the leaks? Perhaps The Post should create a Special Investigative Reporter position to investigate wrongdoing by The Post itself.
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