Friday, March 13, 2009

Right to Reply Bill test case: Elevator girl and politician in a blind item

The Urban Dictionary offers this definition of why blind items are written:

When a gossip columnist doesn't have enough evidence to support a claim about a celebrity, where naming said celebrity would result in a lawsuit, giving no names but mild clues to the celebrity's identity in the latest gossip.

Other types of columnists also resort to blind items for similar, if not the same, reasons.

Recently, a tabloid columnist and a friend came out with a blind item that alluded to an incident that supposedly transpired between a politician and an elevator girl.  The columnist said that the politician, whom he described as being excessively horny, pinched an elevator girl just under her breast several times while riding inside an elevator.  The columnist says that the elevator girl apparently didn't make much of it, thinking that it was just the politician's way of pressing the flesh -- in a manner of saying.

In anycase, politicians are more often than not the subject of attacks by blind items and they can hire PR people to manage the damage made by the blind item.  The columnist's intent is clearly to shame the politician and chastise him for his inappropriate behaviour.  However, in pursuing this intent, the columnist may have very possibly also embarassed the elevator girl or, for that matter, several elevator girls who come in contact regularly with politicians.

Moreover, one such elevator girl was seen tearfully carrying a copy of the column that some had handed to her.  She said that all who rode on her elevator had intimated in one way or another that they thought she was the one being alluded to in the column.  She denies that she had ever been pinched under the breast by any of the politicians who rode the elevator she was assigned to operate.

My question now is this:

If you were this elevator girl and you felt alluded to in such a blind item, how would you seek redress without subjecting yourself to further embarassment?

Consider that, in responding to a blind item, it would involve revealing your identity.  But what if the prospect of revealing your identity is not a desired recourse?

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