Why the Post Didn't Run Vargas' Story

Admitted illegal immigrant worked for paper for years
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2011 10:44 AM CDT
This undated handout photo provided by Define American shows Jose Antonio Vargas.   (AP Photo/Define American)

(Newser) – Jose Antonio Vargas' "coming out" as an illegal immigrant generated quite a bit of buzz—so why wasn't his story published in the Washington Post, where he worked for years? Vargas originally brought his 4,000-word account to the Post, and until last week, that's where it was scheduled to run. But after multiple drafts and weeks of fact-checking, the paper's executive editor pulled it just days before it was scheduled to be published Sunday, the Post reports. One red flag was noted in the decision: Vargas didn't disclose the fact that he replaced an expired Oregon driver's license with a new Washington license.

The decision was made on his attorney's advice, and prompted those at the paper to question whether they were getting the whole story. The executive editor notes that the staff knew Vargas would take the story elsewhere—namely, the New York Times magazine, which was able to print it with just 48 hours notice, thanks in part to the fact that much of the editing and fact-checking had already been done at the Post. Politico notes that the Post could also have been wary of bringing problems upon itself, considering the fact that the piece reveals Vargas told at least one Post staffer about his immigration status, but one expert says any fine would likely be between just $2,000 and $5,000.

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