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Undercover reporting

July 05, 2007

Re "Undercover, under fire," Opinion, June 30

It is no surprise that investigative journalist Ken Silverstein is castigated for personal misrepresentation in meeting with lobbyists and exposing their shady practices. America has a long tradition of punishing whistle-blowers when unethical conduct is disclosed. An effective means to distract attention from the main issue and see that it's quickly forgotten dates back to ancient times: killing the messenger bearing bad news.

One is reminded of Jesse Unruh, a powerful California legislator known for his memorable quotes. Most apt here is, "If you can't eat their (lobbyists') meals, drink their liquor, sleep with their women and then vote against them, you have no business being a politician." Jesse, we need you more than ever.

JOSEPH WAGNER

Los Angeles

*

As a former reporter, I can't imagine good journalism without undercover investigation in some form or another. I shudder when the wrong people campaign for restoration of the "fairness doctrine" -- I thought that's what we were lumbered with now: no opinions, no ethics, nobody to speak up or speak out or ask a decent question from information gathered by some kind of under-the-radar techniques. We might as well have a royal court. Oh, excuse me, I guess we do.

BARBARA FIRGER

Oakland

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