Philadelphia magazine took an April-issue story titled “The War Within” off its website earlier this week after two readers questioned it. The story is about former Marine sniper John P. Boudreau who says he’s haunted by his actions in the Middle East. After being quizzed by the magazine, Boudreau admits that much of what he told writer Anthony Gargano was embellished or, in some cases, fabricated.
Editor Tom McGrath writes:
There were red flags that all of us missed along the way, as well as a major failure on our part to use outside sources to verify the information we’d been given. While other publications have certainly been duped by sources over the years, that in no way lessens our responsibility or culpability in this case. In plain terms: We blew it.
McGrath adds that “I will be forever baffled by what motivated his lies” and “can only hope he seeks treatment for whatever real demons he has battled and clearly continues to battle.”
Gargano, the radio host who wrote the Philadelphia profile, says “I was actually quite proud of the piece. I spent months on it, laboring over every word.”
I sit here a fool, sickened that I unwittingly led the magazine, a group of caring, diligent editors, and our readers into John Boudreau’s troubled world and his web of deceit. I recklessly ran the red lights that arose while writing this story and sped past all of the basic reporting, which is heresy for a 22-year veteran of the craft. For that, I apologize. I should have seen it from a mile away, and I didn’t see it from nose to nose.
* A retraction and an apology from the editor (phillymag.com)
* What went wrong with “The War Within” (phillymag.com)