By G.W. Schulz
When the controversial journalist Jason Leopold botched a story last May for lefty media purveyors Truthout.org, the Columbia Journalism Review took him out to the woodshed. Ironically, however, CJR was forced to make a correction to their own story in a later editor's note placed at the bottom of the piece.
Leopold used what he stated were multiple anonymous sources to report that Karl Rove would indeed be indicted for his role in leaking the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the press. But Leopold got the story all wrong, it appeared, because a month later, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald told Rove’s lawyer that he “did not anticipate” seeking charges against Rove in the scandal.
CJR went for Leopold’s jugular calling the debacle the “latest addition to his application for membership in the Stephen Glass school of journalism ..." Stephen Glass, of course, is the shamed former New Republic writer who was forced to leave the magazine after a number of his articles turned out to be fiction. Glass’s downfall was chronicled in the 2003 movie "Shattered Glass."
Appended to the bottom of CJR’s assessment of the Leopold screw-up was an editor’s note: “Initially this post mistakenly attributed certain statements made by Mark Ash, Jason Leopold's editor, to Leopold himself. The attribution has since been corrected.”
CJR’s mistake, for the record, comes nowhere near the colossal mishaps Leopold has had as a journalist over the last several years. In his over-the-top recently released memoir, “News Junkie,” he admits misquoting a key e-mail in a story for Salon.com about an alleged cover-up attempt by a top Bush administration official in the Enron disaster.
He writes in the book that he was fired from the Los Angeles Times for threatening a subordinate, but according to the book, he went on to work for Dow Jones Newswires where he broke a series of stories central to the California energy crisis. He claims that prior to his career as a journalist, he worked for a record label in New York where he struggled with a severe cocaine addiction and alcoholism.
As for CJR’s error, writer Paul McLeary told us in an e-mail it was simply an oversight.
“Sadly, it's not a joke. I mistakenly attributed some things Ash wrote to Leopold. Doesn't change [the] overall point of the piece, really, since I'm taking them both to task equally.”