Complete Series on Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Article HERE.
UPDATE: Monday, August 20th, 2012 11:30 PM
I had lots of traffic on the blog today from Advance Publications, the parent company of Vanity Fair.
T&T StatCounter® Screen Shots
As you can see above, someone at Advance Publications and/or Vanity Fair reread Part I of this series on Monday at 10:48 AM PT. A few minutes later, someone read Part II. Shortly after noon, Part III and Part IV were also read. All told, between 10:48 AM and 3:44 PM, T&T received 26 visits from Advance Publications.
This puts to rest the question of whether Vanity Fair is aware of the errors and fabricated quotes in Mark Bowden's article. Bowden and Vanity Fair owe their readers an explanation.
UPDATE: August 15th, for clarity
August 13th, 2012
With all the recent journalism stories about plagiarism and fabrication in the news, I thought it was time to revisit this series, Fact Checking Mark Bowden’s Curious Vanity Fair Article on the Sherri Rasmussen case.
Bowden’s story, A Case So Cold It Was Blue, appeared in the July 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, which hit newsstands in early June. A week and a half later, the entire lengthy article – more than 9,500 words –went up on the Vanity Fair website, where it’s still online.
A few days later, on June 20th, I posted Part I of this series. Part I detailed numerous factual errors in the Vanity Fair article. Considering the subject, a murder committed by a LAPD detective, these were not insignificant mistakes. Among the facts Bowden gets wrong is what year Stephanie Lazarus’ sexual relationship with John Ruetten ended, as well as when lab testing was done of the bite-mark swab and what that testing revealed. None of these facts were late-breaking news. Stephanie Lazarus’ trial ended on March 8th, 2012, almost three months before Bowden's article. Part I also documented numerous places where Bowden misquotes Stephanie Lazarus’ June 2009 videotaped interview. In at least one instance, Bowden fabricated a line of dialogue that is never said, and does not appear in the video or transcript. The video and transcript have been public documents since November 2010.
In Part II, posted on June 26th, I questioned how Bowden was able to describe Lazarus’ private thoughts and feelings during the interview, and how he arrived at his characterizations of Lazarus' personality and career.
On July 2nd, Part III revealed that Bowden never interviewed any of the individuals involved in the case before publishing his article.
Vanity Fair August 2012, published corrections
The September 2012 issue of Vanity Fair hit newsstands August 2nd. Below is an image of page 152. This time, Vanity Fair corrected another story from the July 2012 issue, but still nothing on Bowden's piece.
Vanity Fair September 2012, published corrections
Two issues of Vanity Fair have been published since Bowden’s article ran. In each one, corrections were made to other articles in the July 2012 issue. Neither of those corrections approach the seriousness of Sherri Rasmussen's case.
Does Vanity Fair Know?
Since I began this series six weeks ago, a few T&T readers have suggested I write a letter to Vanity Fair’s editor, pointing out the errors in Bowden's article. The problem I have with that is the magazine’s letters policy, which you can read in the above images. I believe the best platform for my reporting is right here where it's always been, on my blog.
Besides, within a day of publishing Part I, I knew there was no need to send a letter to Vanity Fair, since they are well aware of my blog.
Part I went live on June 20th at 9:00 PM PST. Below is a screenshot of my Statcounter® log showing a visitor from "Advance Publications" the very next morning, to my first post on Bowden's article. The parent company of Vanity Fair is Advance Publications. As the image shows, there have been other visits from Advance Publications since then.
Since it's clear that Vanity Fair is aware of the factual misstatements in their Lazarus article, when will the magazine acknowledge them, and offer an explanation as to what went wrong? How did those altered quotes make it into print? Did Vanity Fair's fact checking department drop the ball, or did Bowden overrule them? This Vanity Fair reader is waiting to know.
Stephanie Lazarus Trial Quick Links -- Complete Case Coverage
Continued in Part V.....