Bernick said Garn called him when he was considering involvement in the 2004 gubernatorial campaign of Marty Stephens and asked if the incident might come up. He asked the same later when he ran again for the Legislature in 2006. Bernick said he gave him no guarantees but also said he didn't know the woman's name or how to contact her.
Bernick said, "I think we made the right call, not to try to rush something into print when the woman was kind of a flake. I think it was the right call then and the right call now."
McBride, however, says bad calls were made. "The standard would have been to report it," she said. "You had it verified and you had the woman talking to you." She added, "It clearly was a bad call when he got back into politics."
Weber State University journalism professor Alison Barlow Hess, who is also president of the Society of Professional Journalists in Utah, also feels a bad call was likely made but was less harsh in her criticism.
"If these issues were easy, we would not be here discussing it. It's not always an absolute," she said. She adds that the Deseret News at least took a good step by apparently discussing it among several editors and reporters, including those with opposing opinions, before making the decision.
But she said the decision that was made will make readers wonder "how many other lawmakers have come in crying, and say 'I'm really sad,' and 'this happened a long time ago' and didn't have it reported."
She added, "People in Utah are pretty skeptical about the ethics of Utah legislators, and whether they are getting sweetheart deals" — including from the press because of decisions like this.
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