Scotsman Reporter Stands By 'Monster' Quote Decision

By RJI on March 7, 2008 0 Comments

by John C Abell

Gerri Peev, the Scotsman reporter who quoted Samantha Power as calling Hillary Clinton “a monster,” said she could not “in good conscience” have agreed to keep the remark off the record.

The propriety of running with the quote – which Power sought to put off the record as quickly as she made it during an on-the-record interview – has caused a bit of a debate in journalism circles.

Power was a relatively obscure member of the Obama camp: a foreign policy adviser who has had limited contact with the press in her official capacity and certainly does not speak for the campaign. She was, in fact being interviewed primarily as a civilian: she is on a private book tour.

But Power sought no assurances in advance -- and she said what she said. The news value of the remark is beyond dispute; it resonated loudly in the news cycle and, because it resulted in a resignation, an apology and a tart response from the Clinton campaign, it had an impact in the presidential election.

Peev said in an interview with MSNBC it would have been “a dereliction of duty” not to write the story as she had. “We’re not in the business of censoring ourselves,” she said, adding that the remark was illuminating because it “showed the tensions” in the campaigns -- indeed, it wasn't even in answer to a question. “The information she gave she actually volunteered,” Peev said.

She said that Power excused herself to take a call shortly after arriving for the interview, which was held after the Ohio primary Clinton won. When Power returned, she permitted Peev to turn on her tape recorder and made an off-the-cuff remark, as Peev originally reported.

“"We fucked up in Ohio," she admitted.”In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio's the only place they can win. 

"She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything," Ms Power said, hastily trying to withdraw her remark.

Asked how she felt about Power resigning over this flap, Peev said “Of course I’m saddened from a personal point of view … but I couldn’t in good conscience” not report the remark.