Campaign Abuse Demands a Journalism Bill of Rights

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So it turns out that — according to a story on the front page of the Daily News and Inquirer this morning — a love interest of Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams has been charged with slashing the tires on two city vehicles (including the D.A.’s) last November. It’s a titillating story, perhaps, but it’s also important one, because it raises serious questions about how both Williams’ office and Philadelphia police handled the case. And it’s almost certain that this caper would have stayed buried under the rug — were it not for dogged work by three local journalists.

When it seemed hopelessly stalled amid official hemming and hawing, journalists Chris Brennan, Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker wrote about the strange case in the newspaper — and suddenly it gained new life. The same scenario played out with a quashed probe of gift-taking by Philadelphia state lawmakers; an expose in the Inquirer not only led to charges and resignations by five of the legislators, but touched off the chain of events that forced Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane from office.

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