Jay Mariotti: GQ correcting its ‘Biggest Sleazebag’ item is ‘incremental progress’

Letter to Romenesko
gqFrom JAY MARIOTTI: In its September edition, GQ magazine all but accuses me of extortion in an absurdly false report (at right) — claiming I used a camera-phone video of an ESPN executive to coerce the network into giving me assignments. It is a lie that would be laughable if not so damaging and such a reckless disregard of the truth. The author of the GQ story, from the trashy Deadspin site, never bothered to contact me or my representatives about this allegation and apparently didn’t bother to check a Deadspin story about the matter that never connected me to a camera-phone video.

So, we contacted GQ.

And quickly, GQ issued a retraction/editor’s note that appears today in a revised story in the magazine’s online edition. [Mariotti says he’s been told by GQ it’s going to be posted today.]

I’ve long been disgusted about false, fabricated and poorly reported/researched stories by irresponsible media outlets concerning me, my media career and a fallacious 2010 legal case. Even after its retraction, GQ still doesn’t have the ESPN story anywhere close to its accurate form; I also see untruths about my legal case and career. But at least GQ has linked to my original and accurate column about the ESPN executive, which I wrote in July only to correct Deadspin’s typically erroneous interpretation of events that took place in January 2012./CONTINUES

In the ongoing media climate of rampant sloppiness, I’ll accept this one retraction as incremental progress. Our next call will be to the Chicago Tribune, which picked up on the GQ falsehood without bothering to verify accuracy. And then maybe to something called Yardbarker, which has me pleading guilty to three felonies, which is grossly untrue and would have prompted plenty of jail time; I had no jail time, there was no guilty plea, and any homework will show a misdemeanor level via a judge who recommended expungement.

From a publication’s viewpoint, of course, the retraction process is a game played to avoid potential legal action. There was a time many years ago when the Chicago Sun-Times, in survival/desperation mode as a newspaper, caved to the ridiculous demands of Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf that I take blame for content about a newly negotiated contract for a head coach. The newspaper had been given one set of contract figures by the coach’s agent, and the rival (and Reinsdorf-favored) Tribune had been given slightly different figures by Bulls management. The Sun-Times used its figures in the beat writer’s fresh news story about the new contract, and an editor called me with the same figures and asked me to include them in my column on the topic as well. Next day, Reinsdorf was ordering the editors to hold me completely responsible for the retraction. Why capitulate? Why cut scummy deals? The paper feared legal action.

I’ve been subjected to my share of extraordinary dirty-pool tactics in the media industry and legal system. At least GQ has owned up to one error:

Editor’s note: This text has been updated from the original print version of the story to avoid any potential unintended misimpression that Jay Mariotti created, leaked, or used the camera phone video in any way, all of which he adamantly maintains he didn’t do.

* GQ names Jay Mariotti one of the “25 Biggest Sleazebags in Sports” (chicagotribune.com)