The House ethics committee's reprimand of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) also raises some questions about coverage of the congressman -- in particular a key story written by Paul M. Rodriguez and George Archibald of the Washington Times.

The committee's report quotes two witnesses as denying they said what Rodriguez and Archibald quoted them as saying in a May 1 story that accused Frank of knowing his Capitol Hill apartment was being used "as a bordello."

Rodriguez said yesterday that he stands by his story and the information contained in it.

"When it comes to these kinds of things, people tell us in the press one thing and tell someone else something different," Rodriguez said.

The committee report quoted one witness as saying it was "an exaggeration" to say that she spoke with Frank two or three times a week, as the story said. She also said that "she had no knowledge of any other individual besides herself or Mr. {prostitute Stephen} Gobie using Representative Frank's apartment nor had the word 'bordello' been used during the course of her interview by the reporter."

A second witness "specifically took issue with and disputed the accuracy of" another part of the same story, which said that Frank, Gobie and the witness were present when the operations of a sex escort service were being discussed.

"The witness said that he did not make this statement because the purported discussion did not occur -- the witness testified that the dinner conversation dealt with legislation and the fact that Representative Frank had publicly acknowledged his sexual preference," the report said.

In a press conference yesterday at which he discussed the report, Frank singled out the Times for criticism.

"The Washington Times has been systematically dishonest about this," he said. "There's been a consistent effort of distortion. Apparently I have done something to offend the Reverend {Sun Myung} Moon and the people who put out that paper on his behalf."

Even for a Texan, it was an odd name. In the second edition of the New York Times yesterday, a story from Los Ebanos, Tex., was credited to a reporter named "Fake Byline."

By the third edition, the story by Fake Byline had only the usual credit for an article written by a stringer. It said "Special to The New York Times."

Nancy Nielsen, the paper's spokesman, said the problem was caused by an inexperienced computer operator.

Some hot topics take a while to cool down. At Cable News Network, for example, those working with the new investigative unit are still steamed about a front-page piece in the New York Times on July 8.

It seems that CNN staff members believe they had most of the same news 12 days earlier, but nobody noticed until the Times wrote its version of story. The Times, not CNN, was given credit for the news by the wire services and many newspapers, including The Washington Post -- as well as CNN's own Headline News Service.

"Angry" was how reporter Brooks Jackson described the mood at the CNN investigative unit over the media's apparent preference for newspaper news.

Jackson, who was an investigative reporter in the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau for 10 years, moved to CNN's new investigative team in March. This story was his first big one, and friends in television have told him to get used to receiving less recognition.

The story at issue here involved the rocky financial history of a Phoenix businessman, James M. Fail, whose company is expected to receive at least $3.4 billion over 10 years as part of the Reagan administration's savings and loan bailout.

For CNN, recognition isn't the only sore point. CNN, the Times and the staff of Sen. Howard Metzenbaum were all among those investigating the S&L payments to Fail. Metzenbaum is quoted in the Times story, and Jackson said members of the senator's staff had told him afterward that "they were honor-bound not to tell me that they had made an exclusive agreement with {Times writer} Jeff Gerth to share their investigative information with him in return for his promise to hold the story until the day before Metzenbaum's hearings.

"This is not an uncommon arrangement. I confess I have, on occasion, done the same thing myself, although I see problems with it," Jackson said.

At the Times, Gerth said he did not want to comment unless written questions were submitted to him about the matter.

Washington bureau chief Howell Raines also refused to comment on "sources and editorial processes," such as any agreement with Metzenbaum, but he said that Gerth's story of July 8 had a number of new facets that the Times reported first.

"As a matter of policy, the Times gives credit, and I'm a stickler for enforcing that policy," Raines said. "As far as I know, in this instance, we don't owe them any credit," he said, adding that he would review the CNN transcript.

Pam Hill, vice president of CNN and executive producer of the new investigative unit, said yesterday, "It is my experience generally that newspapers are slow to pick up and credit television news with stories that they break, unless it's a Sunday {talk} show.

"It is part of the problem that TV news has in terms of not being taken that seriously," she said.

Some staff members at United Press International were startled by announcements last week of two big editorial changes at the Washington bureau. Among those especially surprised, according to several UPI sources, were those who were still in the jobs that were being filled.

Washington bureau chief David Wiessler was in Texas after running UPI's summit coverage when his replacement was announced. He told friends he had not known until after the announcement that he was moving to another job, to work on a new political finances report for the news wire.

Wiessler said this week that he could not comment on the changes, but UPI managers have said that he was asked for his views on possible management changes before he left for Texas. UPI officials said they tried to contact him before announcing his replacement.

The other person being replaced was Assistant Managing Editor Michelle Mundth, who also reportedly was not told about her future until almost a week later.

Mundth did not want to comment, but UPI sources said that early this week she was offered a job with UPI in Seattle, a position that she decided not to take, in part because her husband works for UPI in Washington.

The moves, which some UPI staff members called "brutal," also involve the retirement of one of UPI's star writers and editors, Arnie Sawislak, who left yesterday at age 62 after 41 years on the job.

Called Thursday for comment, Sawislak said, "This could not be a worse time to talk." Asked if there was a better time, the normally cheerful and wry Sawislak said tiredly, "No, I cannot talk about this."

"They have gone for the heart and soul," said one disheartened staff member.

UPI spokesman Milt Capps said that all the changes were related to the assembling of a new management team at the wire service.