As promised, I e-mailed L.A. Times Top of the Ticket blogger Andrew Malcolm to ask his thoughts on the e-mailed gag order sent by his blog boss Tony Pierce, regarding the alleged John Edwards/Rielle Hunter affair. Pierce’s e-mail to his bloggers said he was “asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.”
Mr. Malcolm responded to my e-mail on the record. He claims not to feel gagged:
I can only speak for The Ticket.
Since the new Enq report is a single publication with unnamed sources that doesn’t advance the story much beyond what we already had and since our LATimes.com website already had a lengthy posting this week on this latest Enq version by our sister Opinion blog (see url below), we decided, as salaciously tempting as these new tidbits are to the larger blogosphere, to await the details of our newsroom colleagues’ independent verification process on someone who is no longer a candidate for anything.
How can the memo be a gag order if we’re posting on it?
As to Malcolm’s contention that the Enquirer story “doesn’t advance the story much beyond what we already had,” I guess he and I will have to agree to disagree.
But I asked him for a response to some obvious retorts to his e-mail. I pointed out that the post in question was published on July 23, while Pierce’s e-mail is dated July 24. As I said in a responsive e-mail to Malcolm:
A post published before the gag order is hardly evidence that the gag order (which certainly reads like a gag order) is not a gag order.
Another obvious point: Edwards is a top candidate for Attorney General, according to several sources.
As I said before, I’m only speaking about The Ticket. But we made our decision for the reasons cited before the LATimes.com Opinion blog and we’re staying with it after the Opinion blog post. It’s a news judgment call based on not much new news there, many years of experience, the anonymous source, the publication’s record, the subject now being on the political sidelines, our own reputation as one of the highest-ranked newspaper political blogs and our perceived responsibilities to Ticket readers. Other political blogs will no doubt make their own calls in good faith, some different, some the same. We may well modify our position once our own people check things out. As always, the readers are the final judges. We’re good with that.
I thank Mr. Malcolm for the response.