Shame on Matt Drudge

February 28, 2008 · Print This Article · Email This Post

Matt Drudge

Ironically, it was American journalist Matt Drudge who leaked the news in a big way today that Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, was on active military duty in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. British media, not normally known for their restraint, had quashed the story and signed agreements with the British Ministry of Defense, promising not to reveal the prince’s whereabouts lest Prince Harry or his fellow soldiers be put in danger, such as by becoming the Numero Uno targets of the Taliban.

The Prince, who arrived in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, commented today that it had been nice to be just a regular person. He apparently only planned to stay until April. Was it really asking too much to leave the story on the back burner until then? Shame on you, Matt Drudge. Ocasionally, discretion is the better part of valor.

Police, Crime Scene

I recall a time when, as a newspaper crime reporter, I covered the case of a serial rapist. I’d figured out that he was a U.S. soldier, stationed at Fort Knox, and most likely living in Radcliff, Kentucky, where the rapes were occurring. Wearing his Army uniform to gain the trust of the wives and girlfriends of fellow soldiers, he’d knock on doors and, on the pretext of car trouble, etc., he’d gain entry. Just as I was about to run with the story, the Radcliff police chief called me in and asked that it not run quite yet. Why? They were doing surveillance work on the suspect. Running the story would have changed the suspect’s habits, prolonged the matter, and put more women at risk. It was the one time I didn’t run with a story when I had it. Putting others at risk wasn’t ethical. But then, some people will do anything for a story.

Later, in exchange, I got exclusive coverage of the take-down. It was worth the wait. Sure, getting an exclusive was great — but the greater satisfaction came from having known that I’d done the right thing.

Read about a journalist who has difficulty with the concepts of fact and fiction.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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