Anita Busch appeared on the “Midday Sunday” program on Fox 11 News with Tony Valdez yesterday. Also appearing was retired journalist Pete Noyes, whom Kevin Roderick has called a “news legend.” According to Roderick, “high standards were [Noyes’s] hallmark.”
Noyes had something to say about what journalists should do when their sources become accused of crimes: don’t cover their criminal case.
His view has relevance to Chuck Philips’s coverage of the Anthony Pellicano case.
From the program:
Busch: I think there’s a real ethical question here as a journalist . . . and that is, when a long-time source is arrested for a terrible crime, what do you do? Do you cover that? Or do you recuse yourself and not cover the story? What is the ethical thing to do?
Noyes: The ethical thing is, you don’t cover the story. . . . You drop it, right then. That’s the only thing you can do as a journalist.
Well, it isn’t what Chuck Philips did.
According to the New York Times, reporter Chuck Philips “had long experience with Mr. Pellicano as a news source” before 2002, when Busch was first threatened.
After Pellicano was indicted, the paper allowed Philips to cover Pellicano’s criminal trial, despite the fact that Pellicano had been Philips’s long-time source. Indeed, Philips authored several stories that were highly favorable to Pellicano, and hostile to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
But then, Philips has always appeared immune to the usual rules about conflicts of interest. His coverage of Anthony Pellicano is just one example.
P.S. There is much more coming on the Anita Busch story. Stay tuned over the next few days.