WEDNESDAY’S LETTERS: Was Fiedler’s ‘Prurient Sleuthing’ into Gary Hart’s Affair Bigger Sin than DeFede’s Taping?

Follow by Email
Visit Us

By: E&P Staff

A former Miami Herald reporter weighs in on the recent firing of columnist Jim DeFede, and has a few strong words for Herald Editor Tom Fiedler.


Re: Fired Miami Columnist Wants Outsider to Review His Dismissal; Herald Editor balks

Miami Herald Editor Tom Fiedler is, of course, correct when he says he never “violated the law” when staking out Sen. Gary Hart’s Washington townhouse during an investigation aimed at exposing the presidential candidate’s romantic life. On the other hand, Fiedler’s prurient sleuthing — which torpedoed Hart’s presidential bid — probably harmed journalistic standards far more than DeFede’s allegedly illegal tape recording.

After all, Fiedler’s outing of Hart’s sexual peccadilloes represented a significant milestone in the media’s increasing quest for sleaze and gossip — even when those things have no bearing on good governance. This trend reached its zenith with the media’s obsessive pursuit of Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances, during his first successful presidential campaign and second term as president, even though the public was generally apathetic about such things. The time spent on prurient issues, of course, meant less time and space for substantive issues, including the early warning signs of Islamic terrorism that culminated in the Sept. 11. 2001, terror attacks.

Will DeFede’s infamous tape recording have a similarly negative impact on American journalism? I doubt it. Although DeFede violated Herald policy, he may or may not have broken Florida law. In some states, he would have been acting legally. Consider, moreover, another scenario: DeFede could have kept the fact of his surreptitious recording to himself — or claimed he had permission to turn his recorder on. Either way, he would have gotten away with it.

DeFede, however, had the intellectual honesty to tell his superiors about the recording — a level of honesty that, to be frank, I have seen in short supply in most news rooms: Reporters and editors seldom call attention to their mistakes, if they figure those mistakes won’t be uncovered. In short, DeFede’s conduct reveals a spirit of self-examination and integrity that is commendable and ought to be encouraged as an antidote to journalism’s plunging credibility.

What a pity Fiedler didn’t practice as much self-examinaton before he and his Hearld colleagues undertook a major investigation of Gary Hart’s sexual life.

David Paulin
Austin, Texas

The author was the Caracas correspondent for The Miami Herald’s international edition during the 1990’s.


Re: Account of Iraq War Protestor’s Meeting With Bush Draws Scrutiny

Thank you for correcting the record. Let’s hope others join you in outing Matt Drudge for the fraud he is. Shame on him for orchestrating an outrageous smear on Ms. Sheehan. I suspect it will backfire on him, as well the president’s refusal to meet with her will cause him great political harm. How do you spell plummeting poll numbers?

As for Cindy Sheehan, we couldn’t ask for a better representative to get the long overdue conversation about Iraq started in this apathetic country of ours. When more of the Gold Star families join the vigil, the war of words will heat up exponentially, and the blowback will be fierce. Viva la resistance!

Sharon Andrews
Pembroke Pines, Fla.


Greg Mitchell’s reports on the 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb continue to draw out readers.


I’ll give you one: The Japanese didn’t surrender immediately after Hiroshima.

There is much talk about the Japanese being ready to surrender even without the bomb, but all that talk seems to refer to a Japanese faction that had never been able to stop any of the militarist faction.

And if the ruling Japanese faction had been looking for an excuse to surrender, Hiroshima gave it to them.

Another question: How does anybody write an article about how horribly we ended the war, without mentioning how horribly Japan began it? Was it somehow pleasant for Americans to die at Pearl Harbor, because the bombs were smaller? And would the Japanese attack not have killed 70,000 at Pearl Harbor if they could have?

I wish that everybody who whines about how tough we fought the war could go back in time and spend just one day marching on Bataan.



Pretty good one-sided piece on the bombing of Nagasaki.

Mike Farrar


You guys do good work. I wish our so-called “mainstream” media actually spoke the truth about Bush and his wars and the consequences.

No wonder nobody remotely intelligent believes what mainstream media says any more.

— “de omnibus dubitandum” All is to be doubted — Descartes

Fredric L. Rice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *