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ABC News Praised for Restraint in Menendez Prostitution Reporting

On “Good Morning America” today, Brian Ross explained why the network held off for months in reporting the sex allegations against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez even as as other news outlets went ahead with the sordid details.

Ross reports Menendez “appears to be the victim of a very dirty trick” after one woman in the Dominican Republic now says she was paid to make up a story that she’d had sex with the Senator. Ross’ story this morning showed Skype interviews done with that woman and two others, months ago. Ross and his producer Rhonda Schwartz wrote on ABCNews.com Tuesday:

Last fall, Republican operatives, who insisted on anonymity, helped arrange the woman’s appearance, along with two additional women, in back-to-back, on-line interviews with ABC News and a conservative news website, the Daily Caller. ABC News did not broadcast or initially report on the claims because of doubts about the women’s veracity and identity.

Both the Columbia Journalism Review and the Washington Post are heaping praise on ABC for their restraint. From Erik Wemple‘s blog:

ABC News’s early and apparently deep reporting on the allegations enabled it to avoid imprudent flirtations with Menendez-Prostitution Inc. Take CNN, for example: It sent an investigative reporter to the Dominican Republic to poke around a bit, only to come up with nothing. End result: Push the rumor further into the mainstream media. The Washington Post and Politico, furthermore, published pieces analyzing Menendez’s future in case the allegations panned out.

Menendez still faces an ethics inquiry into his friendship with a Florida donor. “Much less sexy, but potentially much more significant,” Ross concluded on “GMA” this morning

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