'Not A Close Call' Says Editor Who Kept 'Undocumented' Reporter's Secret

Jun 30, 2011

Buried a bit in the stories about journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and his decision last week to reveal that he has been in the U.S. illegally since he came here from the Philippines as a young boy, was the fact that in 2004 he told an editor at The Washington Post about his situation.

Peter Perl, who is still with the Post and is one of its assistant managing editors, has now spoken at length about his decision to keep Vargas' secret. He tells Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute that:

"This was, at the time, not a close call. It was clear to me that I believed that my taking action would have resulted in his losing his job and maybe being deported. And I felt like, at his age and his situation, that as much as I trust the leadership of The Washington Post, they would have been obligated to put in motion a whole series of events that were clearly going to result in real damage to Jose."

Perl says he has not been "fired or suspended or fined or anything like that" for his decision, but some of his duties will likely be changed.

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