This morning Allah linked that rumor that the L.A. Times is sitting on a sex scandal involving a leading presidential candidate. I tried nosing around a little, and asked Matt Welch about it. Matt is an Assistant Editorial Pages Editor for the paper, and a rare breed: an L.A. Times editor whom I trust. He is honest, smart, and plugged in — and he is definitely not part of the stuffy liberal old guard at the paper. (For example, he recently published a great book about John McCain which ridicules the myth that McCain is a straight-talking maverick.) Here’s what Matt said to me:
I can tell you the following — I have never, ever, ever, never, ever, ever, ever heard anything about this. And I spent last week in Washington DC, worked in the LAT bureau, went to parties with LAT muckety-mucks, and gossiped with dozens of people who cover presidential politics; none of whom ever so much as mentioned anything about it. Rosenbaum’s single, anonymous source is most certainly wrong, at least about the “everyone knows” part. He also most certainly is wrong that the same “everyone” apparently “doesn’t know what to do with it” — seasoned political journalists are not helpless bystanders in the face of juicy rumors, they are specifically trained to go out and investigate them, and report when relevant.
As for Rosenbaum’s agonizing over “reporting” such a thing, I don’t have much respect for it. Either report or don’t; save us the handwringing about stooping to “Web 2.0” whateverthehell.
You can quote me on all of that.
He left a comment on my site saying something similar, here.
This doesn’t mean the rumor isn’t true, but it’s the way to bet.