Yes, it’s the National Enquirer. But still, the tabloid’s justification for deciding not to call Al Gore before running a story showcasing an unnamed masseuse’s unsupported allegations that he solicited a sexual act and then attempted rape, strikes me as especially slimy.

Here’s how Howard Kurtz, quoting Enquirer executive editor Barry Levine, describes their decision:

Levine also acknowledged that the Enquirer did not call Gore’s office for comment “for competitive reasons” out of concern that the former vice president would issue a statement and the paper would lose the exclusive in the two days before it reached newsstands.

Ludicrous. If an outlet is going to run an allegation like that, the subject has a right to a response whether or not it fits some self-set ideal production schedule. Your financial interests don’t come ahead of that most basic tenet of fair reporting.

What a feeble justification, especially for an outlet that claims it wants to be taken more seriously.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.