Monday, May 07, 2007

Hewlett Packard's Victims Should Not Be Taken Off the Story

The New York Times reports today that three of the journalists who were victimized by Hewlett Packard unethical snooping have decided to sue the company. I was delighted--hey, journalists are citizens too -- until I read further down, and saw that most of the reporters slimed by this company are no longer on the H-P beat.

Obviously, reporters who are suing a company should not be allowed to cover it. However, it appears that the reporters suing H-P were removed from the beat -- presumably as a direct result of H-P's well-publicized misconduct. That is not a good thing.

When a company engages in misconduct, or commences a libel suit to silence a critical reporter, the proper approach is for that reporter to redouble his or her efforts to get at the truth. In fact, the reporter should stay on the story even he or she was going to be removed for unrelated reasons.

That's exactly what happened to David Halberstam when the Kennedy Administration wanted him taken out of Vietnam. The Times refused, and canceled a vacation so that it might not be seen as buckling under to pressure.

I was about to say that "The spirit of David Halberstam is not living on in the media today," but why state the obvious?

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.


Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site,

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