< Go West, Young Man

Transcript

Friday, December 09, 2005

BROOKE GLADSTONE:: This is On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.

BOB GARFIELD:: And I'm Bob Garfield with this update. In May we reported on a sting operation set up by the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington. The paper was acting on a tip first accusing Mayor Jim West with involvement in an old child molestation scandal and later tips suggested that even then he was soliciting sex with young people online. The paper learned of one 18-year-old who had been solicited online by a man who later claimed to be the Mayor. The paper hired an outsider to go online to troll for the suspect. As Spokesman-Review editor Steve Smith explained:

STEVE SMITH: The question I asked my reporter was, can we be certain that the individual we're dealing with is not somebody posing as the Mayor in order to hype their attractiveness to young men, portraying themselves as somebody with power and authority? And until the reporter could stand before me and say, "I know this is Mayor West, without qualification," you know, that's not a story. That's just not a story. We discovered that the only way we were going to get at this story was to go online ourselves.

BOB GARFIELD:: This week, voters in Spokane voted in a recall election to oust the Mayor. Jim West will leave office on December 16th. At a news conference, he said that he plans to sue the Spokesman-Review for publishing material that he believes was in violation of his privacy rights.