By: Mark Fitzgerald
INVESTIGATORS SEARCHING for a tipster in the failed raid on the Waco, Texas, cult group will likely find nothing, the editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald says.
“I don’t believe that happened,” editor Bob Lott said.
“I don’t know how long it will take for the investigators to determine that that [a tip] never happened, but that’s my feeling. The [Branch] Davidians say they didn’t get a tip, and we certainly did not tip anyone,” Lott said.
In addition to an investigation by the Texas Rangers, the Society of Professional Journalists’ recently formed task force says it will look into whether armed cultists were warned by a journalist about the impending raid of federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents.
SPJ task force members interviewed a Tribune-Herald editor in recent days, Lott said.
A day before the raid, the Tribune-Herald began a long series of investigative articles about the Branch Davidians.
ATF agents, who learned of the stories, twice asked the paper to delay publication, without mentioning the possibility of a raid. Lott has said the paper did delay the story for a while, but only because of an unrelated reason.
“As far as the Tribune-Herald is concerned, I think we made an ethical and responsible decision and I trust SPJ in its professional capacity will conclude that as well,” Lott said.
Lott noted that the newspaper told ATF agents the story would run “30-plus hours” before publication. The pre-raid articles also did not mention any ATF investigation.