In his piece about this saga, Bob Frump mentions that an Inquirer task force once “worked a story for two years about the corruption of a major national candidate … only to conclude that there were only smears there, not hard facts and firm links. The story never ran and no one felt any sense of a ‘cover up.'”
After I asked about it, Frump revised his post to note that Geraldine Ferraro was the task force’s target. The journalist, who worked at the Inquirer from 1976 to 1986, writes in an email:
In the mid-1980’s, The Philadelphia Inquirer assigned top reporters to investigate mob links to VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro’s husband. The paper broke several stories about possible connections but after months of looking into the affair, and renting hotels for weeks at a time in New York for its task force, the editors decided that the results did not warrant the patented Inky “take out” treatment for which it was famous because there was no clear evidence Ferraro was dirty.
The decision was accepted in the newsroom as a good journalistic reasoning, not a coverup, as I recall. This was an extreme example of quality control during the Gene Roberts years, in my opinion. It was not uncommon for a reporter to spend months on a story — and still not meet the standards set by editors. Not everyone was happy with that, but it marked the difference in my mind between in-depth journalism that sorted out truths and “at length” journalism, which just printed charges and denials.
* Ruderman responds to Inquirer’s takedown (phillymag.com) | Her post: (facebook.com)
* Daily News reporters forced to defend Pulitzer-winning series (cbslocal.com)
* “A big Inquirer fan” says the meat of the Inky story was undercooked (frumped.org)