DC madam story fizzles out … for now

For those eagerly anticipating the ABC News 20/20 report on Friday on the so-called DC Madam – the California woman accused of running a high-end...

For those eagerly anticipating the ABC News 20/20 report on Friday on the so-called DC Madam – the California woman accused of running a high-end call girl service in Washington – the report by Brian Ross may have disappointed.

No other new names were revealed during the segment, as Howard Kurtz reported in the Washington Post, though the possibility exists that additional names from the Clinton administration era could be revealed in time. Ross told Kurtz that he decided not to reveal any more of the people on the list because they just weren’t “newsworthy” enough. Given that the segment said several important lobbyists, among others, were on the list, DC locals might not agree with that characterization.

Whether revealing more potential “Johns” from the list is proper has been the subject of some debate among media outlets, as discussed in an article in Editor and Publisher. On the one hand, soliciting prostitutes is illegal and exploitive. On the other hand, phone numbers appearing on the list might be wrong numbers, and inaccurate reports on a person’s involvement would do damage to his reputation that a retraction or correction couldn’t properly reverse.

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