The Miami Herald fired columnist Jim DeFede because he tape-recorded a phone conversation with Arthur E. Teele Jr. without his knowledge. Teele, an indicted former city commissioner, killed himself in the Herald’s lobby earlier in the day without knowing that the columnist recorded their conversation. Publisher Jesús Díaz Jr. and Executive Editor Tom Fiedler said they fired the popular writer because it is illegal in Florida for anyone to tape a conversation with another person without that individual’s consent. DeFede told them that during his interview with Teele, he turned on a tape machine as the politician confided in him about his public corruption charges, financial problems, and other sensitive issues.
At one point, Teele told the columnist that he was not speaking on the record — but DeFede continued to record him anyway without his knowledge, Díaz said. “With all of our sources, we have to treat them with respect and dignity,” Díaz said. “I don’t think we did that in this situation.” Herald editors decided not to publish DeFede’s column based on his interview with Teele because it was obtained under possibly illegal circumstances.