The article today by Ms. [Frances] Robles narrates certain items which were agreed to be off-the-record. Unless the rules of journalism have changed drastically since I was last mayor (in 1993) your above-mentioned reporter has acted outside the long-standing professional norms in this area.
Very truly yours,
Xavier L. Suarez
Mayor City of Miami
*"The things quoted were 100 percent on the record by any test," executive editor Clifton retorts. "I wrote him back saying that in a letter, but he never responded."
December 15, 1997
David Lawrence, Publisher
The Miami Herald
One Herald Plaza
Miami, Florida 33132
Dear Mr. Lawrence:
Last week, while in New York, I was told of Carl Hiaasen's column, which contained allegations regarding my mental state.
Please be advised that any allegations suggesting I am in a "deranged" state of mind are erroneous and maliciously defamatory.
Demand is hereby made that you retract any statements which suggest or affirm a pathological mental condition on my part. This demand is made against both the newspaper and Mr. Hiaasen - who incidentally, has refused to meet with me to discuss the offending allegations.
Let me add that this is the fourth major defamation of my character by your newspaper in the last month or so. You have caused great suffering, anguish and loss of prestige to me and my family. Unless a major corrective pattern emerges in the next few weeks, including retractions of each and every defamatory piece, I will sue for compensatory and punitive damages for each and every instance of defamation.
YOU WILL PLEASE GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY.
Xavier L. Suarez
*In his December 4 column, Hiaasen did not describe Suarez as "deranged." Rather he called him "a babbling fruitcake" and added that "the mayor is either certifiably nuts or seriously undermedicated."
*Responds Clifton: "It was just a satirical column. I think it falls securely within the purview of fair comment and criticism."