6
The Rules of Libel—Beyond
Comprehension

At the end of November 1979, The Washington Post published a pair of stories written by Post re porter Patrick Tyler describing a complex series of business arrangements undertaken by Mobil Oil Company that appeared to have enriched Mobil Oil President William Tavoulareas' son Peter. In 1974 Mobil organized a series of leases of its own tanker, first to a Saudi Arabian corporation and then back to Mobil. To handle these transactions, a London shipping corporation was established with Peter Tavoulareas, a recent college graduate, as a half partner. The company, Atlas Maritime Corporation, did millions of dollars of business with Mobil under exclusive no-bid contracts.

Tyler explored this story as the result of a tip received from another reporter who worked for a small suburban newspaper. He examined the available records of the deal and interviewed many of those involved. Two major sources were Peter's

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