[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]
Three days ago, I wrote the following…
I had reporters calling me all weekend to try and find Betty and Veronica. These are people from major press organizations with big resources behind them. No sign of Betty or Veronica. Tommy Christopher says he spoke to Betty’s Mom on the phone and did other things to confirm their identities and it would be a fatal career move to just lie about that, so it’s hard to believe that that’s what happened. On the other hand, nobody else has seen this proof as far as I know (perhaps Colby Hall, the managing editor?) and Tommy has been very belligerently defensive about his reporting. And again, reporters have put dozens of hours into searching records and knocking on door with no trace.
Tonight, The New York Times proved that these concerns I and a few others have had for nearly a week were correct – Mediaite is now admitting that they got the story wrong. Managing Editor Colby Hall writes…
Working with other reporters and sources, we have now determined that “Betty,” her mother, and “Veronica” created false identities, and are not at all who they claimed to be.
Except they aren’t really admitting they got it WRONG. Not wrong wrong.
After the story was published, a source close to the story expressed doubts about Betty and Veronica, as did Jennifer Preston in her research and reporting for a story for the NY Times.Christopher shared, off the record, the steps he had taken to verify their identities. Since then, both Preston and Christopher have been independently investigating these sources further.
“Without concrete proof, though,” Christopher says, “we had to proceed under the assumption that these people were who they said they were, and that compromising their identities represented a significant risk of harm.”
Well, wait a minute. A lot more people than that expressed doubts. I did it on the phone last Sunday with Tommy, who yelled at me for 20 minutes. And when I posted my piece three days ago, Tommy showed the same same open, honest attitude with me in private messages on Twitter as he did on the phone.
You want to see why Tommy got the story wrong? Hubris and unprofessionalism.
Lots cursing by Tommy, so it’s after the jump…
Here’s my DM conversation with Tommy on May 15. I don’t consider this sort of abuse to be privileged. I think I was being a friend to Tommy. You can see his reaction, in bold for easier reading.
Fuck you. That was scumbag shit. I told you how I verified, OTR, and you challenge me to reveal privileged info? Fuck you.
And this is from REPORTERS, Tommy. I didn’t challenge you — I said ‘people are saying’ — because THEY ARE
There’s nothing ethical keeping you from telling another reporter. but I don’t want to have this discussion privately, to be honest…
Yeah, asshole, and I HAVE. IN PRIVATE, which you know I can’t reveal. You scumbag.
I don’t know that…
You said I "need to show my work." I can’t, you asshole.
Sure you could…to SOMEONE? Sure you could
Well I told you, I told Patterico. I’m tellihng you now, every reporter who has contacted me, I have shared what I could
you can share an adult’s name. who’s the Mom? Did you tell another reporter?
especially since that source clearly had an agenda and stated things that weren’t true, on the record
Yes, fuckface, I did. It’d be nice if you asked before smearing me.
you’re too defensive. nobody smeared you. I’m done talking to you
She did not, you and Patterico are insane people. Perfectly rational explanations offered, and ignored
Good. Fuck off.
Tommy is the only person who thought there were ‘perfectly rational’ explanations. When others tried to tell him, he reacted…well, you can see how he reacted to anyone who dared question him.
Colby Hall – do you have an answer for this?
– Lee Stranahan