The Press: Social Snooping

When black-tie guests at Bobby Kennedy's Hickory Hill estate found themselves bobbing, fully clad in the moonlit swimming pool fortnight ago, no one worried about the dozen reporters who were present. Each was a trusted insider who could be counted on to remain discreetly silent. But four days later news of the soggy soiree was in print across the nation. As might have been expected, the byline belonged to Betty Beale, 50, society columnist for the Washington Star.

The scoop was typical of a style official Washington has ruefully come to know. Betty Beale is nosy, pushy and blunt. She snoops. She...

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