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The Final Word on the Fabricated Village Voice Story

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Now, granted, I don’t live in New York City. With the exception of my years in the Washington, DC area, I’ve always lived in the “fly over states” as the coasters know us. And the majority of my time in the fly over states was spent in the South where air traffic control had to route those flying-over planes to avoid the mosquitoes and gnats. So maybe I just ain’t hip enough. Maybe I’m one of those country-fried-steak-and-gravy bumpkins they always complain about in the Big Apple.

But I always thought The Village Voice was a progressive media outlet. An outlet that would say it sought truth and unbiased reporting. It now seems that we know they aren’t above using their own brand of manipulations, truth-alterations, and spin control machinations.

Earlier this week, I mentioned how the Voice retracted a cover story written by Nick Sylvester. Sylvester and the paper’s editors admitted that this story contained fabricated events involving a supposed conversation with three pickup artists who traveled to New York to find willing women. Once the fabrications were identified, Sylvester was suspended by the paper and they retracted the article.

But in my reference to this story, I did say that I was confused by some of the names. There was talk of a gentleman named Steve Lucien but then the retraction focused on apologizing to Steve Lookner. There was even a letter to the editor from Lookner threatening potential legal action. I couldn’t figure out the name change.

Gawker did. 

In this post, the media news and gossip site tracks down cached versions of the removed article, hard copies remaining on the newsstands, and message board postings. The key bit of information here is that the actual hard copy refers to Steve Lookner. Early postings of the article on the Voice website referred to Steve Lookner. But at some point, the name on the website version was changed to Steve Lucien. And then, later still, the article was removed completely.

A rogue, over-zealous, or maybe just lazy, journalist, okay. Fine. They suspended him (some say they should fire Sylvester) and seemed to take responsibility for the error. It’s unfortunate but employers sometimes have to discipline under-performing employees.

But if the name change was an attempt by the newspaper’s editors to cover-up or minimize the fabrications, then that’s a whole ‘nuther situation. Maybe The Voice has been learning from all the politicians it has criticized over the years.