How not to substantiate a quote

hushmoneyCNN is featuring a story headlined "Haggard faces new sex allegations." While Haggard's former church disclosed a pattern of immoral behavior at the time it let Haggard go, the specifics are somewhat new. Doug already compared Newsweek's story on the matter (extremely sympathetic to Haggard, not so much to New Life Church) with The Associated Press' more journalistic report last week.

But check out the lede and supporting quote in the CNN.com report:

A megachurch paid a 20-year-old man to keep silent about a sexual relationship he had with disgraced evangelical pastor Ted Haggard, a senior church pastor said.

. . . "This was compassionate assistance. It was to help him move forward, not a settlement to keep him quiet," said Boyd, senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I am not a big fan of churches including hush clauses in any agreement but if you're going to claim that the senior church pastor saying the settlement was for the purpose of hushing the individual, you can't quote him saying something completely different.

As always, Gorski at the AP handled the settlement agreement less salaciously and more like a, well, journalist. He doesn't lede with that angle -- possibly because he broke the larger story -- and simply lays out all the information:

Boyd said the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly.

Boyd said a Colorado Springs TV station reached him Thursday to say the young man was planning to provide a detailed report of his relationship with Haggard to the station. Boyd said the church preferred to keep the matter private, but it was the man's decision to go public.

. . . Anticipating criticism of the settlement with the former church volunteer, Boyd said Friday that it was in the best interests of all involved. He would not name the volunteer or the settlement amount.

"It wasn't at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story," Boyd said. "Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance - certainly not hush money. I know that's what everyone will want to say because that's the most salacious thing to say, but that's not at all what it was."

And it goes on and on, with information about how the settlement agreement was disclosed to parishioners.

Again, CNN.com, the story is salacious enough as it is. There's really no need to break basic rules of journalism to spice it up, is there?

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