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Norman Schneider’s criticism (The Mail, 8/29) of Amanda Ripley’s article “Whose Turn?” (8/15) is a serious indictment of the Washington City Paper.
You deserve credit for publishing his letter, but with no rebuttal from you or Ms. Ripley I must assume that you cannot dispute his statements. Silence, Mr. Carr, has long implied consent or agreement.
If that is the case, there is absolutely nothing left to Ms. Ripley’s critique of Our Turn. It appears that she has blackened the reputation of that organization without cause or justification. I would use stronger terms than Mr. Schneider’s “mean-spirited,” and “character assassination.” I would use words like “defamation” and “libel.”
In other articles on previous occasions, City Paper has published accusations that have later turned out to be unjustified, untrue, and unproved: apparently published for no other reason that I can fathom except to titillate your readers with sensationalism.
I, like most other Americans, have supported the First Amendment as a bulwark against oppressive government. But when that protection is used as a shield against inaccuracies, lies, and false accusations by the disgruntled, it loses its principled aura and becomes nothing more than a publisher’s tool for making money disreputably.
Yes, Mr. Carr, you published Mr. Schneider’s letter, but the City Paper did not apologize for the damage done to Our Turn and to Woodley House. And there’s no evidence that similar instances of unproved accusations are not going to happen again.
If the City Paper were a daily, you might have some excuse for rushing an unchecked article into print, but it’s not: You have the luxury of a weekor weeksto make sure that what your paper says in print is true. You should have had the articleall critical articleschecked for the accuracy of the accusations made therein. You’re an editor: What are editors for, if not to edit, to supervise, and to winnow falsehood from truth?
You should publish a retraction and an apology for that article.
You should establish a policy that all future City Paper critical articles will be checked for accuracy by a skilled person other than the author. You should let your staff and all your free-lance authors know that you will not tolerate inaccurate, insupportable assertions and accusations. Will you do that, Mr. Carr?
For my part, I’m sending a contribution of $100 to Woodley House with a copy of this letter to encourage Mr. Schneider and Mr. Rice to continue the work of Our Turn.
The Editor replies: Washington City Paper stands by the facts as reported in the article.