Smear for Smear

Enron Pits 'Times,' 'Salon' Against Freelancer

October 4: In his column, Krugman writes he "erred" by citing the White e-mail, the authenticity of which "remains in doubt." The same day, the Times publishes a news story trumpeting Krugman's "error" and Salon's decision to remove the article from its Web site. Without informing Leopold, the Times publishes the name of the former Enron employee to whom the disputed e-mail was addressed. The Times quotes a White lawyer who says White does not recall receiving e-mail from, or sending e-mail to, the named source.

October 9: The online Guerrilla News Network posts a detailed first-person account by Leopold, berating the Times for naming the recipient of the disputed e-mail. He continues to defend the e-mail, which he says Salon editors had in their possession before the piece ran. "I truly believe that's an authentic e-mail," he tells the Voice. "There are way too many people who I spoke to who don't know each other and have never questioned its authenticity."

October 11: Salon editors send an unsigned response to the Web site Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, expounding on Leopold's dodgy behavior. Now, it seems, "no Salon editor actually saw" the e-mail before it was published, which was a "mistake." In a curious twist, Salon informs readers that they can still read Leopold's story in the Nexis archives.

Obviously, Leopold made mistakes, but it's not at all clear they justify a full repudiation of the story or a revocation of his journalistic license. As Paul Krugman told the Voice, "Everything else in that story checked out. The substance of his reporting was entirely correct."

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