by Irvin Muchnick
Newsweek Europe and its reporter Teddy Cutler have thrown their dog leashes into the ring for the title “journalism cowards of the year.” But hey, it’s only January. In today’s world of rampant advertorial, analysts are confident others will step up and give them a run for their money.
Concussion Inc. recently reported on how Brooke de Lench of the Moms Team Institute, a marketing partner of the Concussion movie, smeared Kimberly Archie — the mother of a 24-year-old former high school football player who died in a motorcycle accident — by claiming to Newsweek Europe’s Cutler that Archie had fabricated the story about a Boston research group’s finding that the son had chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
With the utmost wimpiness, Cutler had asked Archie to refute de Lench’s smears — while at the same time begging me to keep his name out of our coverage. In an email yesterday, Cutler apologized abjectly … to de Lench.
Cutler said in substantial part:
“I am writing to correct an error of my making that has since been propagated on social media and blogs and caused damage to the reputation of Brooke de Lench and MomsTeam.
Ms de Lench sent me an email following the publication of my ‘Concussion’ article in Newsweek notifying me of certain errors I had made and assumptions I had jumped to. The article itself lacked a good degree of balance, which I have unfortunately only come to see with hindsight.
I mistakenly thought that she was questioning your son’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy diagnosis in the email, and communicated with you via Twitter asking you to corroborate what you had told me in our interview for the piece.
I would like to make clear that Ms de Lench sought only to correct my point that football alone might cause CTE, and not to question your son’s diagnosis. In addition, she never claimed to me that you lied about your son’s CTE. My error of understanding has led to a chain of events, with Mr Muchnick writing several articles based on that error on his website.”
Cutler did not respond to my reply, in which I asked if his change of heart was prompted by legal threats from de Lench and MomsTeam. Kim Archie — as well as other mothers of CTE victims, and other critics of the football industry and of mainstream media and “nonprofit” commentary on the concussion crisis — have been targets of both MomsTeam saber-rattling and de Lench taunts and mockery. Much of the latter was on de Lench’s own Twitter account and her various made-for-troll dummy accounts.
In addition, neither Cutler nor his boss, Newsweek Europe editor-in-chief Matt McAllester (who likewise did not respond to our requests for comment for this story), would say if the magazine intended to publish Cutler’s self-criticism of the lack of “a good degree of balance” in “the article itself.”
The facts are these:
Just before the new year I spoke at length with Cutler about the de Lench smears of Archie. On December 30, Cutler emailed me, “I mean, not only does Kim have to go through the pain of losing a son, but then she gets bullied for it!?”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The day before, Cutler had electronically messaged Archie: “Do you know someone called Brooke de Lench?”
Kim replied, “Yes, she’s been very evil to me.”
Cutler: “Hmn, just got a nasty email from her re the article, wanted to check whether she had been in touch with you before.”
Archie: “Sent emails to other advocates saying I have brain damage which was forwarded to me. Not a kind person.”
Cutler: “Gist of email was that Ann McKee did not actually find evidence of CTE on Paul’s brain.”
Cutler: “Just a really weird message.”
Archie: “Do you want his CTE report and do you mind forwarded [sic] the email?”
Cutler: “His CTE report would be great if you could provide it, just so if she asks any more questions I can come back at her by saying I have seen it. I don’t feel entirely comfortable sharing the email, if that’s OK — don’t want to get you or me in trouble. But the main point was questioning Paul’s diagnosis. And saying that you weren’t invited to the premiere by Sony.”
This last point is key, as it establishes the pattern of de Lench’s smears. Even if there were an honest “misunderstanding” over the substance of de Lench’s complaint about the article (I am certain there was not, but there’s no way to parse that without seeing the original email), there is none over whether de Lench crossed the line in her efforts to discredit someone who ran afoul of her tidy narrative of a diligent industry cleaning up a problem thanks to pure “science.” (Archie also produced for Cutler her printed invitation to a pre-release screening of Concussion, which included, among others, families of CTE victims.)
Shame on Teddy Cutler. Shame on Newsweek Europe.
As for Brooke de Lench and MomsTeam — it has been clear for quite some time that they are leaders in the movement to put the dollar sign on $501(c)(3).
Complete links to our series, “How the ‘Concussion’ Movie Devolved From a Humanist Project to a Money Grab,” are at https://concussioninc.net/?p=10632.