I got skewered today in the washington post!

so this writer for the washpost (terrence o’hara) calls me last week saying he wants to do a piece on how my former classmate murry gunty tried to silence my blog and the controversy around it. and wow. if you read his story today  you will see that he makes me out to be this vicious blogger with a personal vendetta and murry out to be this innocent victim whose reputation was maligned by the blog world.

my only guess is that murry hired a pr firm which helped place this story.

mr. ohara says things like

"I have nothing personal against the guy at all," said Pincus, whose original post included numerous disparaging personal remarks about Gunty. "I write about ethics all the time. It’s something I’m passionate about. If Murry had responded on my blog, the whole thing would have just ended there."

now let me ask you. if i had said such juicy disparaging personal remarks wouldnt mr ohara want to publish any of those instead of just referring to them?

mr ohara goes on to say

Gunty’s photo was posted on Pincus’s blog and various aspects of his life and work were ridiculed.

this HAS to be placed by a pr flack. what ‘aspects of murry’s life’ could i have ridiculed? and wouldnt that make great copy to include to?

i consider this an attack on the blog world by sleepy, scared old mainstream media. beware the dangers of running afoul of the bloggers. they’re vicious. how about a washington post reporter trying to portray a slanted story for some other agenda?

at least murry got his facts all out there. and yes, he could have responded to my blog. does mr ohara give me the same opportunity?

he says that a six apart staffer asked me to ‘at least remove murry’s name’. sorry, not how it happened. i was told i had to remove his name which i fought since it was a total violation of my rights.

then he includes a a few comments from this guy stan collender who must be the PR flack who got this story published. you gotta love these quotes. this guy spins it that somehow i misrepresented the facts and innocent people like murry can get their reputations maligned in the process. one might think that your reputation gets maligned NOT when you commit fraudulent acts, but apparently it’s just when they get reported. i guess that’s technically correct.

Stan Collender, a public relations specialist at Qorvis Communications LLC in the District, said the potential for bloggers to damage the reputation of a business or person is a growing concern.

"It’s like pamphleteering on the corner, only its cheaper, quicker and vastly more broad," Collender said. "But unlike the traditional media, it’s completely unregulated in that there’s no fact checking, no editing. It has all the potential for creating a lot of damage to someone’s or something’s reputation very quickly, and it’s almost impossible to eliminate it. Any unsubstantiated rumor has a very good chance of getting out there."

However, Collender said it is usually a mistake to try to squelch it.

"If you respond to this sort of thing you give it credit it doesn’t deserve," he said.

wow. one might think i made the whole murry story up. i guess the point of this story is that business people are now in danger of bloggers fabricating stories that ruin their sterling reputations.

let me help mr’s collender and o’hara rest better. there are plenty of real stories out there about business people acting unethically. we can barely talk about all of those. so we really dont have time to make up stories attacking innocent victims.

i would LOVE to hear what you all think about this and if you agree that this was an unfair represenation and portrayal of this story please blog it and email mr. o’hara.

[two other quick add-on notes: first, o’hara failed to mention that the washington post was formerly an investor in tribe.net. he probably didnt even know. second, if the PR guy quoted is working for murry, i wonder if that should have been disclosed for honest reporting?]

25 thoughts on “I got skewered today in the washington post!

  1. It appears that this is an ethical breach on the part of the Washington Post. At the very least, it is shoddy reporting. At worst, it is a reporter who either is taking work/money on the side and abusing their position within the Washington Post to publish slander.

  2. Actually, given the frictionless web enabling anyone curious to dig deeper, I think this is great. A few folks (regular readers)latched on to the story when first published here. A few more folks learned of it through the attempts (by whomever)to squelch. Now, there is a whole new legion of WP readers who now know of the story, and those more curious will find their way back to the archives and be enlightened. In this case, so far, the publicity is good. Revel in it. Your rants on ethical behavior, or lack thereof, have been read by even more folks than usual.

  3. Mark,
    I read the article and then read your reaction, which is longer than the article.
    Seriously, saying you were skewered is plain wrong. The article was balanced and fair, but your reaction to it isn’t.
    No one ever likes how they are represented in a news article.

  4. Mark,
    I have to agree with the previous commenter. I thought the article was quite fair. I also happen to be a believer that a certain amount of responsiblity comes with being able to “publish instantly” as a blogger. You’re abusing that. I went back and looked at your January post. It was pretty nasty. And to what end – ?

  5. The part I don’t get is that they acknowledge that Murry cheated, but then introduce quotes like…
    “This is a cautionary tale that things live on in cyberspace regardless of their accuracy.”
    “But unlike the traditional media, it’s completely unregulated in that there’s no fact checking, no editing. It has all the potential for creating a lot of damage to someone’s or something’s reputation very quickly, and it’s almost impossible to eliminate it. Any unsubstantiated rumor has a very good chance of getting out there.”
    This simply does’t follow.

  6. Looks to me you came out on top in the WaPo article. You’re protesting too much.
    But I understand, because reporters always get something wrong, whether it’s facts, culpability, or just tone.
    Sometimes this is due to actual malice, but usually it’s mere sloppiness or time pressure to produce finished copy.
    If you think the Qorvis guy planted the story, why don’t you call him up and ask? Heck, call up Murry and ask. The great thing about blogging, unlike traditional news reporting, is that you can follow up as much and as long as you want.

  7. my take on this is that murray gunty’s attempts to censor your blog blatantly shows that he still seems unwilling to accept his own wrong doing. if you do not want to be blogged about then dont commit such unethical acts like fixing elections at harvard business school. there is a strong lesson to be learned here. if you conduct yourself in a ethical manner, then people cannot discredit you through the press and blogging. mark, do not let these guys try and turn the tables on you and make you look like the bad guy. murray gunty did a bad thing. having it blogged about should act as a stark reminder that we need to be responsible for our personal and professional actions. people who choose to live their lives in an unethical manner should be aware of the strong and long lasting reprecutions of their actions.

  8. Ok, step back and think about how a disinterested party saw the article. I read the article and thought that the thrust of it was that Gunty was stupid for trying to pressure you to change something. Any PR flack that placed that article is either stupid or incompetent (or so willing to do his or her client’s bidding that they forgot to tell them what an idiotic idea it was). After all, noone is going to come away from that article without being aware of Gunty’s ethical lapses that were the subject of your original essay.

  9. “if i had said such juicy disparaging personal remarks wouldnt mr ohara want to publish any of those instead of just referring to them?”
    I’m not sure whether the same libel laws apply in the U.S. as in Canada, but if your ‘disparaging remarks’ were in any way libelous, the newspaper may not be able to reprint them, no matter how ‘juicy’, without opening themselves up to a defamation suit.
    I ran into this working as an online editor for a Canadian newspaper – although the comments were available for all to see online, we couldn’t even link to them or quote them without risking liability ourselves.
    The rules that govern the mainstream media are much more strict than those governing the blogosphere.

  10. Mark, I didn’t read the article the same way you did. I only saw it as positive towards you, negative towards six apart, harvard, this poor guy and American CEOs in general.
    In my opinion you should not have used his real name in your original post.

  11. The Wikipedia article for “Murry Gunty” has been deleted without explanation. Why? And by Who?

  12. I read the WP article, and backtracked throough the archived history.
    I think your comments are a bit over the top. You’re really overreacting here, to be blunt.
    The WP story was reasonably balanced, and for the average business reader who doesn’t have time to investigate these issues ad nauseum per the blogosphere, the story pretty much covered the issues.
    Perhaps most importantly, it raises a good question regarding the responsibility (or lack thereof) of bloggers to dredge up irrelevant issues on people’s personal lives.
    At the end of the day, town criers – who perform a valuable service – retain a responsibility to offer some level of editorial judgment.
    In short, cool out, dude – so you were in the paper. Big whoop.

  13. Mark:
    I sympathize with your getting such widespread publicity of a somewhat questionable nature. I think most people’s natural reaction is to want to defend themselves. However, in this retort it seems like you may be bending the facts. In response to the WP article you wrote:
    “now let me ask you. if i had said such juicy disparaging personal remarks wouldnt mr ohara want to publish any of those instead of just referring to them?”
    Yet, in your original article you wrote about following statements about Mr. Gunty that seem disparaging to me:
    “Murry was one of those annoying kids that was hated by his peers and loved by his bosses, also called suckups.”
    “It was sinful how much joy I found in murry’s downfall. The guy had managed to be generally disliked at HBS too, driving around in a flashy BMW convertible (chick car:).”
    And finally there was a comment roasting Gunty as well.
    What I still don’t understand is why Murray’s name was used in the first place? I think your original post was very good and the HBS example was totally relevant, but referring to Mr. Gunty by name added no value. Reputation management remains a very interesting problem that I’m not sure how to solve. However, I am certain that vigilante justice is not the answer.

  14. Mark, I am disappointed by your reckless blogging behavior.
    Telling a story is great but google juice powered association of a name to an event that occured fifteen years ago just to illustrate your opinion on ethics then refusing to recognize the harm you might have done in the name of free speech violates my standard of proper behavior.
    Unfortunately, this kind of mess can’t be cleaned up by editing nor apologizing. Everytime someone googles his name or his company’s name, it will resurface and affect his business.
    Do you seriously believe he deserves to continue paying for a mistake he made at school 15 years ago? Or is it your belief that your free speech is worth others’ loss.
    IMHO right to free speech is not unlike the right to bear firearms, it is not a license to go around shooting willy nilly.

  15. just to respond to a few of these posts.
    i dont think there is an obvious answer to the question of what is *appropriate* to blog about, especially concerning revealing people’s names.
    clearly it was not illegal to do this and hence murry’s attempt to force me to remove it was silly and heavy handed. however, i do hear points that people like andrew fife make here. i guess if he had emailed me or responded directly on the blog i would have felt more sympathetic.
    the question of at what point someone’s story which has been publicly reported becomes a ‘private’ affair again is interesting and i hadnt previously thought about it.
    it seems that once you have entered the public realm by choice as i have with this blog or by the result of your actions like murry’s case, you have given up the right to privacy and the control you had with it.
    i guess you are relying on the compassion of others in how they choose to deal with you (as i am too). you are in a sense open to being tried again in the court of public opinion.
    i have a lot more compassion for people like andrew fastow who seem to have sought redemption.
    the point here is back to my original ethics question — have we created a system that promotes ethical behaviour? does it make sense that a small few get crazy life sentences while the majority of the rest get a slap on the rist and a sweep under the rug.
    we can just read today’s headlines to see that this combination of a lack of any consistent systemic retribution and the american oppty for instant reinvention allows the same people from drexel burnham to enron to the bush white house to continue on to the next deal with a small few ever truly owning their acts and showing an interest in redemption.

  16. To me, you are just an ass. I would think if the point is a morality lesson, then you wouldn’t have printed the person’s last name. You dredge up someone’s past, plaster it all about and parade it like it somehow makes you a better person. I’m sorry, but you come out as a total ass. We’ve all done things in our past that we aren’t proud of, and that we’ve moved beyond. You didn’t inquire nor did you write whether this was the case. You just did this for your own purpose of moral indignation. However, at this point, you aren’t on the moral high ground anymore. With this, you’ve fallen into the tar pit yourself. You’ve been as much of a scum as the person who you wrote about was 12 years ago. What is even more sad is that I don’t think you will ever realize it, continue to justify it, and never make amends (which the subject of your post did do and moved beyond 12 years later).
    What is sad is that I am a liberal. I believe that big business is evil. I would agree with a lot of what you say about morality in big corporate america. However, in your haste to flig sh*t, you just ended up with sh*t all over yourself.

  17. Sorry, but to present “he can respond in my blog” as a solution is ridiculous. If your info was wrong it should have been fixed, and it is silly to demand that it be fixed in a way that brings you more publicity and increases your ego.
    Get a life and someone in PR (calling them flacks does not negate their usefulness) to help you with your self tattered image.

  18. Mark!
    Shame on you. You have acted with arrogance and carelessness. I hope you look a bit at your own ethics — which you seem to hold in very high regard. You write using extreme language and, in this case, you damaged someone that was minding their own business and is not in any way a public figure.
    How do you know whether Murry has sought redemption in his life? Why are you the judge of when to smear someone 12 years after a short article in the WSJ? You sound moronic when you decide that you have sympathy for Andrew Fastow, a convicted felon for one of the great corporate crimes of all-time, but not an HBS student in his early-20’s that made a stupid, unethical, and historically irrelevant mistake that cost him greatly. It is laughable how you present yourself as an expert on these situations and the ethics involved.
    I find it highly ironic to see you hide behind your point that “clearly it was not illegal to do this”. Is that your ethics here?
    I hope you learn something from this episode.

  19. Stan Collender is hardly a PR Flack – he’s a seasoned journalist in his own right publishing a column on federal budget issues for the National Journal. Collender was a former Hill staffer, national director of public affairs for Fleishman-Hillard and a managing director a Financial Dynamics – a business and financial communications firm. More here http://wink.com/Stan_Collender–bricktop–collections

  20. I am in no position to evaluate the article. But I wonder if it occurs to you that it is a grave, possibly defamatory statement against a newspaper reporter to repeatedly insinuate that he allowed a PR person to “place” an untrue story. If you have proof, or if you have tried to ask the reporter about this, that would be one thing. But it seems hypoicritical to repeatedly make this insinuation without giving the guy a chance to respond, especially when your evidence is so thin (conjecture, really).
    Is this how you would want to be treated by the reporter?
    Disclaimer: I am myself a newspaper reporter. Don’t know the guy who wrote this article or hardly anyone at the Post.

  21. >> “The rules that govern the mainstream media are much more strict than those governing the blogosphere.”
    Wrong. They’re the same rules. Bloggers don’t, and shouldn’t, get a pass. If you libel me on a blog, it’s still libel.
    The law doesn’t care about the tool you use to publish, it just cares that you publish.

  22. Shouldn’t have used his real name in the original post?
    Of course Mark should have.
    Since when does being a douchebag prevent people from blogging about you _using your full name_ like they would any other story.

  23. Mr Pincus
    you are out to lunch!!!!! what planet are you on, you are really having a mid-life crisis my man!

  24. Most of the reporters take advantage of their position and hurt or damage others people life, saying whatever they want about that person just to get famous or to have a better salary, but they should think more before publishing, if they would like to someone write about them.
    Washington Drug Treatment

  25. The new Washington Post editorial, an enormous turd that editorial page editor Fred Hiatt no doubt wrote, is such an unmitigated piece of BushCo. propaganda, such a giant bag of bullshit it deserves to be taken apart, piece by piece and beaten into the ground.
    washington drug rehab

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