Editor's Note

Bringing Heat

By Tim Whitaker
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Jun. 11, 2008

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Last weekend I sent an email to the owner of this paper with a link to a story in the Los Angeles Times.

The story was headlined "How Mayhill Fowler Got Online Scoops on Obama and Bill Clinton."

What, you don't know Mayhill Fowler?

Fowler, a self-described "failed writer" who trumpets her amateur journalist credentials, only happened to score two of the biggest gotcha moments of the election season.

The first came at a closed-to-the-press Obama fundraiser in San Francisco where she recorded the candidate riffing about bitter small-town Americans who cling to guns, religion, etc.

That you remember.

The second came just recently when Fowler recorded Bill Clinton calling Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum "slimy," "dishonest" and worse for authoring a profile the former president deemed lacking in veracity.

"Mr. President," Fowler shouted at Clinton as he worked a South Dakota rope line, "what do you think about that hatchet job somebody did on you in Vanity Fair?"

Clinton swallowed the bait whole and let the insults fly.

Fowler later admitted to the Los Angeles Times that Clinton had "no idea I was a journalist."

In the email to the owner of this paper, I simply wrote, "Thought you might find this interesting."

"Interesting, yes," he shot back in an email. "But it also raises a question about journalistic ethics.

"If a journalist is invited to a session that is expressly 'closed to the press,' is it ethical to report on it incognito?

"Would any serious journalist with a long-term wish to cultivate his sources--rather than abuse them--accept this approach which others might see a mere short-term opportunism?"


You could argue that Fowler, who was "reporting" for "Off the Bus," a Huffington Post citizen journalism election initiative, revealed sides of these politicians we might not have seen had she announced her presence and identified herself before hitting her record button.

But those revelations, whatever their value, came at a cost.

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1. Heal Thyself said... on Jun 10, 2008 at 07:00PM

and the endless launching of frivolous blogs that stretch precious journalistic resources even thinner. So, without further ado ...our fabulous new style blog!”


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