A much-awaited review of more than 600 columns by Mitch Albom by his home newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, has found no evidence of other cases similar to an April 3 column in which he wrote about events that never occurred at a basketball game. However, the paper found that Albom has used quotes from other newspapers, TV programs, or other publications without indicating that he did not gather the material himself, in violation of Free Press rules on crediting sources.
Albom strongly defended his integrity in about five hours of interviews. He said editors approved using quotes without attribution and that other columnists operate in the same fashion around the country.
Editor & Publisher, May 16, 2005
Goddamn you, Mitch Albom. You are ruining it for everybody.
Before you opened up your yap, the lovable mouth-breathers we call readers were blissfully unaware of how easy a columnist's job is. As far as they knew, everything we write springs fully formed from our computers' keyboards, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus or Kelly LeBrock stepping out of Anthony Michael Hall's closet in Weird Science. And they loved and admired us for it.
But a short five hours of your incautious word-drool later, and suddenly they're all on to us. Thanks to you, they now know that anything they read in one of our columns could have been shamelessly lifted from a host of sources from U.S. News and World Report to last week's episode of Without a Trace to whatever playground chatter we can pick up on during recess at a school for the congenitally deranged.
What a way to inflict needless complication on a cushy job. Now I guess I've got to own up to every part of this column I've ever borrowed from someplace else unless I want to spend five hours of my precious time defending my own "integrity" to editors who can barely get the word out without laughing. Thanks for nada, Mitch. Thanks for nada.
Last month, I reported that two concessionaires working an Orlando Magic game at the TD Waterhouse Centre had been heard discussing plans for a pagan fertility ritual at Rich DeVos' house. In reality, I never attended the game in question: In fact, as far as I can recall, I've never been to a basketball game of any kind. I'm not even sure I know how the sport is played. And once or twice, I've gotten lost trying to find the Waterhouse on foot. Still, I stand behind the story, as I heard it from a pedicab driver I've learned to trust with my life.
In March, readers of this column learned that Ezzie Thomas, a campaign worker for Mayor Buddy Dyer, had been indicted for scalping Ginuwine tickets outside Hard Rock Live. This juicy bit of gossip, which was related to me by a salted-nuts vendor working across the CityWalk promenade, was later proved to be slightly incorrect. But I'm going to let it stand, because I always liked the sound of it.
Late last year, I reported that Orlando's dance-music scene was not only thriving, but destined to put us on the map as a world-class community once and for all. This information was appropriated from a 1997 issue of Rolling Stone, and should in no way be construed to reflect current reality.
A condom joke in the May 12, 2005, edition of Dog Playing Poker was cribbed from a drinking buddy of mine named Josh. I had even thought about giving him credit for the gag, but that would have taken away space I needed to print my own name real nice and large at the top of the page.
Last summer's column on the close relation between heredity and mental illness contained some secondhand findings. Specifically, I'm referring to the claim that, when cousins are two of a kind, you can lose your mind. I apologize to the producers of The Patty Duke Show, who coined the theory.
Several times in the last few years, I have sworn that the It's Just Lunch! dating service is a great way to meet available singles just like you. I pulled this vital intelligence directly from the full-color ads they take out in our newspaper, because I know what side my bread is buttered on, folks.
Regular readers who turned to this page in the final week of August 2004 noticed that it had taken on a highly unusual home-ec bent: My entire column that week was devoted to tips for organizing a pantry. The most controversial item on the list was my contention that the best thing to do with a crock is to shove it in as far as it'll go. That's the last time I play a game of "telephone" with Michael Wanzie, I can tell you.
During his recent P.R. disasters, I alluded to Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary being a useless tub of lard whose high-fructose diet has rendered him unable to last more than three minutes in the sack. This thought originated with Mrs. Beary.
In late October 2004, I reported that the liberation of Baghdad was going well, the U.S. economy was on the rebound and life in these United States had never been happier or more secure. I honestly can't fathom where I could have picked up such claptrap, but I was watching a lot of CNN at the time, so there you go.