Editor Mark Garber has written a longer explanation
online of why his paper didn't publish allegations it investigated in 2007 and 2008 about Al Gore.
against the former vice president by a Portland masseuse claiming he tried to force himself on her have surfaced this week
in a National Enquirer
story. The Enquirer piece
details the woman's account to Portland police
of what she says happened on Oct. 24, 2006 when she went to give Gore a massage at the Hotel Lucia downtown.
"The Portland Tribune is not the National Enquirer – and we don't think most of our readers expect us to be," Garber writes.
Garber notes that then-Tribune reporter Nick Budnick (a former WW
reporter) investigated the allegations for several months in 2007 and 2008. Among Budnick's legwork was getting police reports that Garber said "contained very little useable, third-hand information," and interviewing Gore's accuser and numerous other sources in an attempt to corroborate the account.
"Along the way, we uncovered information that created significant questions in the minds of the four editors and the investigative reporter who were involved with this story," Garber writes. "We still are not yet in a position to publish the information that helped dissuade us from the story. Also factoring into our decision were conditions the therapist attempted to set forth concerning how the story would be written. She attempted to make her cooperation contingent upon her having a degree of editorial control that we couldn't allow."
The paper ultimately decided not to publish, Garber said, adding that
"Frankly, we don't believe it is a journalist's responsibility to merely report accusations without also substantiating them. Some people – even other journalists – might disagree. But at the Tribune, we remain comfortable with the decisions we have made and recognize that our standards for accusing someone of a serious offense are different from those of a national tabloid."
He noted that the Enquirer's
story was based on a later, more detailed police report that was filed in January 2009.
Garber also provides answers to two questions he says the paper has gotten after the Enquirer ran its piece: 1) Why the paper is running the Gore story now?; and 2) Whether the original decision not to publish betrays some liberal bias.
His answers to both questions are here