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Why The Washington Post Passed on the Vargas Story

Yesterday FishbowlNY told you about the fascinating revelation by Jose Antonio Vargas that he was an illegal immigrant. We also mentioned that a piece by Vargas would be published in the upcoming New York Times Magazine, and as the day went on, we found out that The Washington Post had passed on the story.

It was a puzzling decision, especially since it’s such an interesting tale and Vargas had won a Pulitzer for his work at the Post. Today, we get some insight into why, exactly, the paper let Vargas’ story go to another outlet. Apparently the piece was all set to run in the Post’s Outlook section, when concerns over some facts in Vargas’ article arose:

One red flag popped up during weeks of checking: Vargas hadn’t disclosed that he had replaced his expired Oregon driver’s license with a new one issued by Washington state (the license had enabled Vargas to pass airport security and to travel to distant work assignments). Vargas later conceded that he had withheld the information on the advice of his attorney. The disclosure set off internal discussion about whether the newspaper was getting the full story from its former reporter.

According to the Post, Vargas would not comment on why he left this out of his piece.

The fact that Vargas left information out of his article now raises some questions. The most obvious are how much of Vargas’ story should readers believe, and does the drivers license detail matter when considering the impact of the piece?

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