Award to Nazi Stirs Newspaper War

A Miami Beach weekly has charged the Miami Herald with having previous knowledge that Miami Beach Mayor Michael Fromberg unwittingly was going to present an award of a gold medallion to a former Nazi SS sergeant at a ceremony last year attended by a large group of Jewish residents of the area, according to a report in a December issue of Editor and Publisher magazine. The Herald denied the charges.

According to Editor and Publisher, the Miami Beach Sun Reporter claimed that the Herald sat on the story until the award was made. Ken Harrel, Sun Reporter news editor, told the trade journal “What the Herald did, in negligence to being part of the community, they let (the award ceremony) happen to get a good story.”

But the Herald’s reporter and editors said they had no advance knowledge of the identity of Franz Hausberger who was to receive the medallion from Fromberg in recognition of his work to encourage German tourism.

The Herald said they received a tip shortly before the ceremony regarding Hausberger’s past activities. They in turn contacted sources to confirm his identity and sent an additional reporter to the ceremony to join the reporter originally assigned to the story.

The Herald said that by the time the additional reporter, Paul Shannon of the Miami Beach bureau, arrived at the ceremony it had already begun. Shannon said he began speaking to a local rabbi to get a demographic makeup of the audience and see whether there were Holocaust survivors in the audience.

But Harrel claimed Shannon arrived before the ceremony and began asking questions to set up the story. Harrel said, according to Editor and Publisher, that he had spoken to several witnesses who had seen Shannon and another Herald reporter at the ceremony site 45 minutes before the medallion was awarded. “They knew about it and I’d stake my reputation on it,” Harrel was quoted as saying.

But the Herald contended that if they had known about Hausberger’s past, “we would have run the story in advance and saved everybody embarrassment,” Herald assignment editor Ed Wasserman told Editor and Publisher. Fromberg, it was reported, came under sharp attack for the blunder, and, according to Harrel, blames the Herald. The Herald said the Mayor has never complained to the newspaper.

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