The Times’ Obsession With a Nameless Man

Nameless, that is, only in the Times.

Even if they're right, you have to chuckle, really, at the Seattle Times' crusade, posing as news stories, to bring a certain Mr. Nobody to justice for the 2001 murder of federal prosecutor Tom Wales.The stories—written in part by a reporter whose wife works for the same prosecutor's office—are rich with details and allegations except for one fact: Mr. Nobody's name. In story after story over seven years about his alleged involvement, he remains anonymous.It's unclear why the Times persists, finding it apparently wrong to name someone who hasn't been charged. But the paper has named other suspects in special cases—and the rare, unsolved slaying of a federal prosecutor clearly is one. Besides, the so-called suspect's name (James Anderson, and no, I'm not married to him) is out there—mostly notably in a New Yorker piece (although, oddly, the magazine says "the Times reported that the FBI searched Anderson's home," when the Times actually said the FBI searched the home of an unnamed pilot).A July 6 story may have been the weirdest no-namer of them all, however. "The prime suspect in the killing of Seattle federal prosecutor Thomas Wales allegedly paid $5,000 to another man to pose as him for a paternity test in the 1990s," the paper reported. What made this important? Any grand jury investigating the Wales case would be interested in someone with a "shaky or shadowy past," said the Times. And who told the paper about Mr. Nobody's shaky, shadowy past? Another Mr. Nobody, described by the paper as a retired former federal law enforcement official.So we have Mr. Nobody saying Mr. Nobody is a likely murder suspect because he allegedly gave another Mr. Nobody some money a decade ago. As the Times likes to say, it's news you can't get anywhere else.

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