States of Denial

The Miami Herald ignited a firestorm over police spying and got burned in the process

McDonnell said these were on-the-record comments. I asked why they weren't used in the original story. "We didn't know this was going to be contested," she replied. "We thought we had enough corroboration." And, she added, they couldn't use everything owing to space constraints.

I sent McDonnell's message to Miami police spokesman Angel Calzadilla. He was unmoved: "Rosario is adamant that's not what he said. He said he told her he's aware of other police departments doing this [taking pictures], but Miami has never done this."

Rosario's denials aside, had the Herald included the unpublished details in the original article, or had the paper later used them to defend itself, we would have read a more thorough story.

And had the reporters gotten comment from the chiefs before publication (they did not), we might have been spared the spectacle of two cities holding damage-control press conferences.

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