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2nd October 2006

Keith Olbermann owes Chris Mihlfeld a big apology…

In June, Deadspin, the sports blog, put Chris Mihlfeld’s reputation on the line with a false accusation about drugs. MSNBC picked up the story and reported it as true. Here’s how Ben Paynter reported the situation in the Kansas City Pitch in a long feature article on Mihlfeld the following month:

In April of this year, Grimsley admitted to federal investigators that he’d used amphetamines, steroids and human growth hormone. Grimsley’s confession became public on June 6, when federal agents filed excerpts of it in court papers. In the confession, Grimsley identifies a personal fitness trainer, whose name is blacked out in the document, as someone who once referred him to a source for speed.

On June 8, the popular sports blog Deadspin.com claimed to know the name of that trainer.

“His name is Chris Mihlfeld,” the site reported.

A day after the blog post, MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann flashed a mug-shot-like picture of Mihlfeld on the screen. Olbermann spun the initial Web report into a theory that Mihlfeld was baseball’s new bad boy.

“Chris Mihlfeld is suddenly one of the biggest names in baseball,” Olbermann declared. “He’s the personal fitness trainer of baseball pitcher Jason Grimsley, and Grimsley is the man who admitted to federal agents that he used amphetamines, steroids and human growth hormone as part of his training.”

Yesterday the LA Times published a story that shredded the Deadspin accusations. Today Deadspin issued an apology to Mihlfeld.

Next up: Keith Olbermann. Be a man Keith. We love you when you’re ripping W. a new one, now give this young man in Kansas City the apology you owe him.

Looks like the score today is Paynter at The Pitch, one — Leitch and Olbermann at Gawkermedia and MSNBC, zero.

Hey! Here’s a link to a very good paper on libel in the blogosphere by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Law Professor at the University of Tennessee. I wonder if Mihlfeld could use it?

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posted in Journalism, People, Web Publishing, Writing | 0 Comments

2nd October 2006

Update - Papa gets it…

Just a quick link to the post by Papa Meloney regarding the Murry Gunty thing. It’s good to know somebody reads this stuff and understands it.

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posted in Journalism, Web Publishing | 0 Comments

2nd October 2006

Washington Post article referencing the Murry Gunty matter

A friend emailed with a pointer to an article in the Washington Post by Terence O’Hara that includes the line:

“If Murry Gunty didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him,” one liberal blogger, Frank Paynter, wrote.

Consider the nano-Warhol juice this sucks out of my allotment. Every blogger will be famous for 15 nano-seconds and this article uses up at least one.

The article offers a lot of room for quibbling. Mark Pincus’ blog post about Mr. Gunty was pretty straight forward. The fall-out when SixApart tried to influence Mark to anonymize Gunty was worth a few comments. But all in all, there were very few people engaged in the discussion, and O’Hara’s assertion that “several” bloggers started their own discussion strings about the long ago incident is off center. A few bloggers (as many as four or five, hardly a ground swell) remarked on SixApart’s efforts to censor Pincus, but the long ago incident stands by itself, well covered on the net and in the press during the nineties and not worth re-hashing except in the context of true or false.

O’Hara suggests that “dozens of posters” were attracted to the matter. I hope he can forgive the quibble that there is in web publishing a distinction between a “commenter” and a “poster.” A poster originates a discussion. A commenter engages in a discussion of a post. These little things matter. They help us establish a common ground. There were by my recollection probably less than a half dozen posters, originating material in their blogs that related to Murry Gunty’s poor choices as a student and the attempt to blot out memory of these misdeeds by censoring Mark Pinkus. I would be surprised if as many as twenty-four people offered comments — twenty-four being the number necessary to lend accuracy to O’Hara’s use of the word “dozens.” I’m sure that between January and August at least twenty-four comments relevant to those few blog posts were made, but many were made by the same person.

If anything about the article annoys me, it is not so much the cluelessness regarding web publishing contextual matters, terms of art and so forth, but rather O’Hara’s selection of my header as the pull quote from my post. I thought my post was carefully wrought. I tried to avoid inflammatory rhetoric, and qualified what I wrote. Over the last few months I have moderated and discarded a couple of comments that came my way because I couldn’t verify their substance and they seemed unfair to Mr. Gunty. The fact that I used an attention grabbing headline has come back to bite me. It’s all that O’Hara found interesting in my blog post!

O’Hara’s gratuitous observation that Pincus’ blog post had a higher Google rank than Gunty’s corporate bio is also worth a quibble. The static nature of Milestone Capital’s corporate flackery will obviously pull fewer readers than dynamic content in a well read blog. The Post article is rife with that kind of nonsense, the stuff that obscures the perfectly valid point that attempting to squelch free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press as it might apply in a web publishing context is a foolish thing to do and perhaps Mr. Gunty would have been better off practicing a little detachment.

And, as Scott Johnson said then,

I can understand that Murry Gunty doesn’t want this information to show up in Google — and a blog does that well — but he did cheat. Now you can argue that everyone deserves a second chance but this wasn’t cheating by a Harvard undergrad. It was cheating by someone at Harvard Business School (HBS). Given all the problems with ethics in corporate america and the prevalence of HBS grads in corporate management personally I think calling someone out with a history of cheating and making them visible in Google is a fine thing.

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posted in Journalism, Truth and Falsehood, Web Publishing | 0 Comments

2nd October 2006

No immunity…

There is no immunity for war crimes. Read what Dana Blankenhorn has to say about this.

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posted in Politics, Truth and Falsehood | 7 Comments

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