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What to do with that secret Obama video

As that great paragon of virtue, County Commissioner Lance Malone, once said, "All an elected official has sometimes is his word — and this time, I’ll have to back off my word."

After being hit by a talk radio firestorm of criticism, I can’t help but wonder if the editor of the Los Angeles Times might be tempted to take back the paper’s promise to an anonymous source to not release a videotape of presidential candidate Barack Obama praising a university professor who once was a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Reportedly, unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers was in attendance at the same gathering. (AP story on the flap.)

The Times wrote a story based on the contents of the video back in April. The headline was: “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Barack Obama; They consider him receptive despite his clear support of Israel.”

I was a guest on local radio station KXNT-AM, 840 this morning when that topic came up. I said I could not understand why the paper would make such a promise, and why it continues to keep that promise.

A reporter who does not keep his word will soon be without many sources, but …

I don’t know that I would have made such a promise in the first place. Why take a videotape and promise to never allow others to see it? In this day and age newspapers have Web sites where a tape could be streamed, adding an extra dimension to the paper’s reporting.

Now that it has become a bone of political contention, is that promise worth the opprobrium being heaped on the paper for being in the tank for Obama. I don’t know what their rationale is at the Times, but it better be good.

Sometimes you have to come down on the side of your reader.

If I promised to keep a source confidential and later discovered he or she had committed a criminal act that I was supposed to conceal as a part of my promise, that deal is broken. The source did not act in good faith.

The Times has a decision to make.

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