Names Not Worth Mentioning, ABC Decides in Escort Case (NY Times)

May 5, 2007

Names Not Worth Mentioning, ABC Decides in Escort Case

By NEIL A. LEWIS

WASHINGTON, May 4 In what had become a highly anticipated story about an escort service operating in the capital for the last 13 years, ABC News reported Friday night that the business catered to many men throughout the federal government.

The network also disclosed that some customers were prosperous businessmen from out of town and that the women worked for the service to earn extra money.

If none of that seemed surprising or even mildly interesting what about the names of the men who supposedly sought respite from their high-pressure duties by paying $300 to have the women attend to them in 90-minute sessions?

Friday’s broadcast of the program “20/20” did not disclose any names beyond those of the two men who have already been identified as customers of the escort service.

“Our decision at the end was not to name any names,” said Brian Ross, the news correspondent who presented the segment. Mr. Ross said that the network went with a “conservative approach,” and that “based on our reporting it turned out not to be as newsworthy as we thought in terms of the names.”

Mr. Ross said that while many of the male customers held positions of some authority inside and outside of Washington, they were not recognizable to the public.

The roster of names, it seemed, was like Washington itself important perhaps, but dull.

The intrigue began when federal authorities charged Deborah Jeane Palfrey with running a prostitution operation in Washington by telephone from her California home.

Ms. Palfrey has insisted that she was operating a legal “sex fantasy business,” not a sex-for-money scheme.

Ms. Palfrey has told reporters that she wants to force some of the male clients to testify in her defense. If any sexual activity occurred, she said, it was without her knowledge and authorization.

Because she did not know the names of her clients but only their telephone numbers, she said, she gave her records to ABC, which had the resources to match names to the numbers.

But Mr. Ross said the network would not be providing names to Ms. Palfrey beyond the two already disclosed.

The most prominent person in the phone records, ABC executives said, was Randall L. Tobias. Mr. Tobias had been a top foreign aid adviser in the State Department until his resignation on April 27 after he acknowledged to Mr. Ross that he was a client of Ms. Palfrey’s business, but used it only to obtain massages.

The other person whose name has been disclosed is Harlan K. Ullman, a Defense Department consultant whose name, résumé and real-estate holdings were reported on Ms. Palfrey’s Web site.

Mr. Ullman said through a spokesman Friday that Ms. Palfrey was mistaken if she believed he would agree to be a witness in her defense.

ABC had reported on its Web site on Monday that the list included a Bush administration economist along with senior military officials and lobbyists, among others.

The administration economist turned out to be a mid-level employee at the Office of Thrift Supervision who was not worth naming, ABC officials said. But the man’s case, network officials said, demonstrated that men sometimes exaggerate their importance to the women they pay for company.

2 Responses

  1. “ABC had reported on its Web site on Monday that the list included a Bush administration economist along with senior military officials and lobbyists, among others.

    The administration economist turned out to be a mid-level employee at the Office of Thrift Supervision who was not worth naming, ABC officials said. But the man’s case, network officials said, demonstrated that men sometimes exaggerate their importance to the women they pay for company.”

    Wait a minute.

    So did ABC report that there was a top Bush admin economist based on what Palfrey or one of her ‘sub-contractors’ told them?

    I can’t imagine that just from the phone records they would have been able to speculate that it was a particular person and then check the number and find that it was not.

    If this is an example of how “men sometimes exaggerate their importance to the women they pay for company” then this is also an example of double-speak from ABC.

    Shouldn’t they have to be accountable for making such statements?

  2. Konnichiwa!
    Check this out!
    *

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: