The Reporter And the Duchess  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   March 1998

The Reporter And the Duchess   

By Alicia C. Shepard
Alicia C. Shepard is a former AJR senior writer and NPR ombudsman.     

NOBODY HAS EVER MISTAKEN NEWWEEK investigative reporter Michael Isikoff for the Duke of Earl. But when he appeared on ``The Late Show with David Letterman'' to discuss his reporting on the White House sex scandal, his fellow guest was Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, who was promoting a cookbook.
The normally rumpled Isikoff was decked out in a new suit for the occasion, prompting his onetime boss, Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., to say it looked as if Isikoff had gotten a Paula Jones makeover.
When Isikoff met the duchess in the green room before the show, he says, she looked at him with ``utter and total contempt.'' But after the show she asked him for his card. ``There's some matters I'd like to discuss with you,'' she said in her very proper British accent.
But Isikoff choked. ``I give my card to every joker in the world and then the Duchess of York asks for my card and I can't find it,'' he says. ``I was totally flustered.'' He did manage to write his phone number on a piece of paper.
Three days later, to Isikoff's surprise, Ferguson's personal assistant came to see him in Washington with a story for him to pursue. Says Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Ann McDaniel, ``I told him he could work on it when he was finished with this.''

Return to A Scandal Unfolds part two




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