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Posted by on Aug 28, 2007 in Media, Politics | 9 comments

So How COULD The Press Miss Craig’s Arrest For Three Months?

Editor & Publisher finally asks the question that is on the tip of the tongue of anyone who has ever worked in the news media (and this site has several people who have): how COULD news outlets miss for some three months the news that Senator Larry Craig had been arrested for making lewd advances in a men’s restroom?

The revelation late Monday that Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested nearly three months ago for allegedly making sexual advances in a men’s room raises the issue of how such an action could occur without the press reporting it.

Even Roll Call reporter John McArdle, who broke the story late Monday, admits he only received word of the arrest and subsequent guilty plea via a tip last week.

“You would think in the 24-hour news cycle, something like this would slip through,” said McArdle, a four-year veteran of the Capitol Hill daily. “He wanted to keep it quiet, and he almost got away with it.”

So how? MORE:

Even more surprising is that the unreported arrest occurred at a time when Craig was under scrutiny following previous allegations of gay relationships and sexual advances dating back to late 2006, when a blogger accused Craig of having relationships with men. The conservative senator has long denied the allegations.

McArdle said the latest incident, in which Craig was arrested June 11 for allegedly making advances to a police officer in a Minnesota airport bathroom, only came to his attention through a tip he received last week.

Declining to offer specifics about the source, McArdle said the tip came in midweek and was confirmed by Roll Call through police reports obtained from law enforcement officials in Minnesota.

“We have been working the story since we got the tip, getting the specific arrest report,” he said. “We had to go through their different filing systems and we were able to expedite that process.”


Given the fact that this story involves someone well-known and in a sensitive public position, you could come up with various scenarios about why the press didn’t quite miss the boat but caught the last boat out on this one. They scenarios include:

(1) The Senator was able to hush it up for a while. If this is a possibility, reporters and editors need to find out who bottled it up and why. And name names.

(2) News outlets were too distracted on other stories and just missed it. The E&P report suggests this isn’t the reason. But if it was, then line editors and reporters deserve the most terrible question an editor can get from a higher-up or a reporter can get from an editor: “Why didn’t WE have this?” (a question TMV co-blogger Shaun Mullen, a former editor, most likely asked and probably got when he was a reporter).

(3) Some news outlets hushed the story up.
This is truly unlikely. Even though many partisans on the right and left like to point to some huge Godlike Editor who goes into newsrooms and prevents reporters and editors from covering stories or forces them to do p.r. type stories, it happens very seldom. It does occur, but when it does, the story is often leaked to an alternative paper or broadcast outlet. And these days there are always weblogs.

Most likely, the restroom advance allegations story didn’t surface because somewhere in the bowels of Idaho it got bottled up because there was someone sympathetic to the Senator and things were either done — or not done — to keep the story contained. The press can sort this out later…but some journalistic “negligence’ could also have been involved.

See our earlier post and round-up HERE (in which Craig’s camp argues that he merely assumes a “wide stance while sitting on The Throne and wasn’t sending sexual advance code signals.)

Meanwhile, Craig held a press conference in Boise to tell his state’s voters “I am not gay.”

UPDATE: For more weblog comment on this E&P story. See memeorandum.

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