ARCHIVE 6/19/08: Background of McDevitt Retraction and Apology

ARCHIVE 6/19/08: Retraction and Apology to WWE Lawyer Jerry S. McDevitt
May 20, 2009
ARCHIVE 6/25/08: Benoit & Wikipedia: Fayette County Sheriff Looks to Stamford Police for Video of Hacker Interview
May 20, 2009

Background of McDevitt Retraction and Apology

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

On June 18 I received an email from Jerry McDevitt. The link to a fascimile of that email — http://muchnick.net/McDevitt6-18-08.pdf — was published earlier.
I immediately responded to McDevitt that I would investigate the matter, get back to him, and take appropriate action. I later sought his approval of the text of the retraction and apology, which is published in the previous post, and shared with him a draft of this follow-up blog item.

I do not represent that McDevitt proceeded to approve the corrective measures I have undertaken. But I believe they are appropriate.

As noted by McDevitt and directly quoted in my item, the source for the information about the timing of WWE’s action in the Signature Pharmacy matter was Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Meltzer is regarded as the foremost journalist in his field, and has been described by the distinguished writer Frank Deford as “the most accomplished reporter in sports journalism.” The Observer has become widely recognized as the industry’s unofficial journal of record. Whenever I acquire information from the Observer that was not evidently elsewhere in the public record, my practice is to seek to confirm it with the parties if possible. In this instance, I did not consider that a viable possibility because previous queries of mine to the Albany district attorney (on other matters) had gone unanswered. I therefore concluded that that office, like the WWE generally, was not talking to me, and I decided to quote Meltzer without elaboration.

I did not simply frame the combination of McDevitt’s and Meltzer’s statements as a dispute; if I had, I think the item would have been in bounds. However, the headline and the way the two accounts were juxtaposed conveyed the impression that McDevitt’s was “misleading,” whereas Meltzer’s was authoritative. Therefore, my resolution of McDevitt’s objection to the item would turn on whatever Meltzer would tell me about the underlying authority for the report of his that I had quoted.

After talking to Meltzer, I concluded that my item was wrong, warranting the retraction and apology published in the previous item on this blog.

Irvin Muchnick

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