Will Thoretz Watch, Day One

August 29th, 2006 2:24 PM

Will Thoretz is the company spokesman for VNU Media, the company that owns Editor & Publisher and employs Editor Greg Mitchell, a man that has something of a "truth problem" according to Michael Silence, and seems to be on the wrong side of an example of "journalistic malpractice" according to Stephen Spruiell.

Mary Katharine Ham of Townhall.com attempted to contact Mitchell at Editor & Publisher for comment several times yesterday, but Mitchell has thus far decline to respond. Ham also tried to contact Will Thoretz of Editor & Publisher's parent company, VNU Media, and while she was able to speak to his assistant, Thoretz has not responded to Ham to date.

Color me skeptical, but evidence indicating that one of your editors has severe ethical issues should demand an immediate response of some sort, unless, of course, the decision has been made to stonewall the story and hope it goes away.

Hoping that this would not turn out to be the case, I sent the following email to Mr. Thoretz moments ago, hoping to spur him to action:

Dear Will Thoretz,

My name is Bob Owens, and I am the blogger that noticed Greg Mitchell's 2003 editorial admitting that he manufactured elements of a story as a young reporter, was suddenly changed within hours of my having linked it. I also know that you have been contacted by Mary Katharine Ham of Townhall.com regarding the unacknowledged and unethical rewrite of the 2003 column, a rewrite apparently designed to cast Mr. Mitchell in a more favorable light.

I have also noticed that while the article now features a correction to the timeline elements that Mitchell got wrong, it still includes elements of the rewrite (specifically the new addition of the phrase "as a summer intern" which did not exist before 4:00 PM Friday, Aug 26).

I would like to ask why this article has not been restored to the 2003 form in which it has existed for over three years until an unfavorable light was cast on Mitchell's admitted journalistic fraud, and why these changed elements are allowed to still exist without an acknowledgement that such changes took place.

The self-serving rewrite of Mr. Mitchell's column has been described as "journalistic malpractice," and I think the public has a right to know how this happened, who was responsible, and what policies will be put in place by VNU Media to keep such incidents from occurring in the future.

To date, I have noticed that Mr. Mitchell seems to be ducking phone calls from Ms. Ham, and you have not (to the best of my knowledge) responded to her either. I certainly hope that an effort to "stonewall" this issue is not underway, as that would be quite counterproductive to all concerned.

All it takes is a simple look to the server logs to conclusively identify who rewrote Mitchell's 2003 column late this past Friday afternoon. An even application of the kind of company policies I expect in any large media organization against this kind of unethical behavior should provide the remedy.

Please let me know what steps VNU Media intends to take to resolve this matter.

Thank you very much for your time.


I certainly hope Mr. Thoretz and VNU Media will choose to publicly respond to this issue sooner rather than later. By now, they should know that the longer things linger the more time people have to dig, and the worse things get, day by day.