‘Chicago Tribune’ National Desk Shows Up On ‘D.C. Madam’ Phone List

By: E&P Staff

The 2-minute, 30-second call was made from Deborah Jean Palfrey’s escort service on Jan. 3, 2001. The appearance of the call was first reported by Tribune Washington, D.C., bureau reporter Andrew Zajac in the bureau’s blog “The Swamp.”

No one answered a call to the D.C. bureau Wednesday afternoon, and the newspaper’s managing editor for news, George De Lama, is on vacation.

Palfrey’s release of a decade’s worth of phone records has D.C. politicians anxiously — and journalists eagerly — poring over the calls from a service authorities allege was a prostitution ring.

So far, the number of one prominent politician, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, has appeared on the phone records. Vitter said he was sorry for a “serious sin.”

At the Tribune, one listing has journalists scratching their heads.

The Tribune’s Zajac wrote that Palfrey’s lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, couldn’t explain the brief afternoon call to “one of the more sober and serious corners of the Tribune.”

Sibley said the call did have “the traditional look for a customer call.”

“Usually there are two or three calls in an hour or so,” he told Zajac. “The customer calls back for directions, confirming, things like that.”

Chicago, too, is a long way from Rockville, Md., where Palfrey’s former business, Paula Martin & Associates, was located.

Sibley said “you can’t eliminate” a possible reason for the call.

“Including a wrong number, right?” the Tribune’s Zajac wrote.

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