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Time out for Tabloids

By Suzanne Spurgeon  May 19, 2009

Just how far should a reporter go to get a story?  That question is asked often in newsrooms and classrooms. There are legal and ethical boundaries that should not be crossed.  Mainstream media is not exempt from crossing those lines.  The tabloids have shown they have no boundaries.  The latest example involves Brooke Shields' mother Teri and "The National Enquirer".  The actress is speaking out after a freelance reporter for the tabloid took her 75 year old mother, who suffers from dementia, out of her nursing home without checking with Brooke.  The tabloid says the reporter is a long time friend of Teri Shields and did nothing wrong taking her to lunch and to the bank.  Funny how they want to be treated fairly in the reporting of this story.  The timing of the reporter's visit is suspect with Brooke Shields now drawn into the famous Kiefer Sutherland head-butting incident.  On GMA, Diane Sawyer suggests the line should be drawn at mothers.  I agree, but let's add children too.  If everyone with a mother (and that's all of us) or a child would stop buying the tabloids, for even just a week, a message would be sent.  Enough is enough.  

This story reminded me of an incident back in 1995 when Connie Chung drew a lot of heat for her interview with Newt Gingrich's mother Kathleen.  Remember the, "Whisper it to me?"  Chung got the elderly woman to disclose her son referred to Hillary Clinton with a 5 letter word that's not very nice.  Connie Chung is a lovely woman, but her tactics in this interview were off base.  Politicians do open themselves up to situations like this when they allow elderly parents or their kids to be interviewed.  The Clintons managed to protect Chelsea during her childhood years.  And, the Obamas appear to be very protective of their children when it comes to the media.  Photo ops with the new dog pulling them around the "yard" are priceless, but controlled. 



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