By Ivan G. Goldman
Golden Boy’s Ring magazine website, which rushed onto the net with an erroneous PEDs accusation against Lamont Peterson yesterday and retracted it hours later, lamented in its onsite apology that it had relied “on a claim made by a source that refused to be named.”
But there are ways the site could still extricate itself from this mess and simultaneously help our sport. No, I’m not kidding. It’s well known among serious journalists that when a source lies to you and feeds you wrong stuff for publication, that source has lost the right to remain anonymous. All bets are off. You can even find this principle espoused in All the President’s Men, a kind of living textbook of investigative reporting from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who exposed much of the Watergate scandal during the Nixon Administration. Somebody lied to them and they told him what they were going to do about it. As I recall, that got the truth out of him.
So Ring editors should let all of us know who gave them the atrocious information that they obviously failed to check. They would be doing boxing and journalism a great favor if they step forth with the rascal’s name. I don’t understand what’s keeping them. If they don’t believe me about the righteousness of making such a move, I suggest they consult with any reputable journalism school, which would tell them the same thing. It’s just common sense anyway. Too bad they waited this long to learn the inner workings of the craft, but learning about them now is still better than learning about them never.
There are many ironies afoot in this story. For one thing, Peterson, like Ring, is a Golden Boy property. The editors printed a bunch of crap about one of their own people. Another is that the editor over there, Michael Rosenthal, replaced Nigel Collins, who knows plenty about boxing and journalism. In fact CEO Richard Schaefer fired Collins in 2011 because he knew a little too much and thought the magazine should treat Golden Boy just like any other promoter.
Full disclosure, courtesy of a suggestion from reader Scott Sanders: I and several others were fired along with Collins in a one-night massacre. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I enjoy watching all this blow up in Schaefer’s face, but as long as I must speak about myself in this story, be assured that no, I don’t want my old column back, and I’m certain none of the others want their jobs back either. We’ve all gone on to better things than working for Golden Boy, which had falsely promised not to meddle with editorial decisions.
A Ring crew attack dog went after me on Twitter and Facebook last night, but I shook him off with a little bug spray. No harm done. He’s just a kid who doesn’t know the history, and I wish him better days. I’m giving Ring editors the benefit of the doubt by assuming that there really was a source, that they knew the source’s identity, and that they didn’t just make the whole thing up because maybe they forgot Peterson is one of their fighters, signed last month.
You don’t have to be an expert journalist to know something about liars. Sometimes they just want to feel important, to make others think they are privy to inside information. But sometimes they have uglier motives. Maybe the liar had something against Peterson or his team. Maybe he was eager to make Ring or Golden Boy look bad. In this competitive 24-hour news cycle, the eagerness to get information others don’t have can get people to forget their allegiance to truth and decency. Especially if they were weak-minded or sloppy to begin with.
When the false word was spreading that Peterson tested positive for a banned female fertility drug, I joked about it. I apologize to Mr. Peterson, the IBF junior welterweight champion, who has a tough fight ahead of him May 18 in Atlantic City against Lucas Matthysse, and I commend him and Matthysse for making that fight. It’s the kind of match-up that fans love to see.
For awhile, Ring, in a frenzy of changing stories, said maybe it was Kendall Holt who tested positive after Peterson knocked him out Feb. 22 in Washington, DC. Eventually it pulled down the story altogether. Ring issued an apology after Schaefer released a strongly worded indictment against the dummies who circulated the story without checking. He was kind enough not to name the dummies.
I apologize to Mr. Holt for repeating this misinformation about him, but repeating it is the only way I can expose it. Neither Ring nor Schaefer has bothered to apologize to Holt, which could be a mistake.
I have tried, along with others, to get information straight from the Washington, DC commission that supervised the drug testing but have received no response. The apology remains on the Ring site this morning under the heading “Peterson Drug Test Retraction.” It’s sandwiched between other stories that might or might not be accurate.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE