Slate’s Jack Shafer writes about the story by deconstructing the Wall Street Journal’s articles on the story…
Delineating a friendship that includes a trans-Pacific flight alone in a corporate jet, an apparently significant sighting in an expensive restaurant, and a dressing down in which a corporate executive is told to reduce his contact with his friend of the opposite sex, all but draws the doughnut and tosses the hot dog through it. On Jan. 26, the Journal rehashes some of the Thomson-Bartiromo story, referring to their jet trip home from Asia, their “friendship,” and their “relationship” (twice). The story breaks new ground in reporting that Thomson tried and failed to get Bartiromo on his jet more than a year ago, while entertaining clients in Montana.
You can almost hear the Journal reporters snicker when they write that CNBC insisted that any jet trips taken by Bartiromo “fell under the ’source development’ section of its code of ethics.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more!
Having dumped the compost, planted the seed, and fertilized and watered the earth, the Journal leaves it to nobody’s imagination what species the flowering Thomson-Bartiromo friendship, relationship, and contact is without actually coming out and writing anything that 1) they can’t prove and 2) invites a libel suit. This is the sort of copy a clever lawyer directs reporters to write when they “know” something but can’t prove it. Leave it to the reader to assemble the meaning of the facts in their minds, the wise libel attorney tells his clients.