What happen when the most famous columnist at a major market paper is caught in a fabrication? What happens if that columnist was also a vocal critic of disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair?
So far nothing.
Detroit’s Live 97.1’s Greg Henson reports on the controversy surrounding Detroit Free Press Columnist and “Tuesday’s with Morrie” Author Mitch Albom. Albom is in hot water over a fabricated column that he claims to have written from last Saturday’s final four. Albom’s column reported that the subjects of the story, former Michigan State basketball stars Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson, were in attendance at MSU’s national semi-final game on Saturday, which was not the case.
Column (The initial correction appears in the original column as well)
April 3, 2005
BY MITCH ALBOM
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
ST. LOUIS — In the audience Saturday at the Final Four, among the 46,000 hoop junkies, sales executives, movie producers, parents, contest winners, beer guzzlers, hip-hop stars and lucky locals who knew somebody who knew somebody, there were two former stars for Michigan State, Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson.
They sat in the stands, in their MSU clothing, and rooted on their alma mater. They were teammates in the magical 2000 season, when the Spartans won it all. Both now play in the NBA, Richardson for Golden State, Cleaves for Seattle.
And both made it a point to fly in from wherever they were in their professional schedule just to sit together Saturday. Richardson, who earns millions, flew by private plane. Cleaves, who’s on his fourth team in five years, bought a ticket and flew commercial.
It was loyalty, sure. And it was exciting, no doubt. But in talking to both players, it was more than that. It was a chance to do something almost all of us would love to do: recapture, for a few hours, the best time of their lives.
“In the pros, you don’t hang out with your teammates; everybody has their own life, their wife or their kids or their girlfriends,” Richardson said. “And anyhow, you’re together on the plane, at the arena, on the bus, 82 games a season. When you have time, you’re just looking to get away.”
“You gotta miss those college days,” Cleaves said. “We were a family at Michigan State. In the NBA, you’re just not as close.”
Mitch Albom’s column in the Sunday section said NBA players Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson attended Saturday’s Michigan State-North Carolina NCAA tournament basketball game. They did not. Albom did interview the players Thursday night and Friday morning. They described travel plans and the intention to sit together at the game. Their plans changed because of scheduling conflicts. The Free Press should not have reported the players were at the game. We do not present as fact events that have not occurred. Albom’s column appeared in a section printed before the game. The Free Press apologizes for misleading readers.
The Free Press issued this statement today A QUESTION OF ETHICS: Columnist’s error being investigated InvestigationThere are some questions about whether Albom is or was getting kid glove treatment due to his star power, but it appears that the Free Press is has acted quickly and decisively to address the issue.
So what happens to Mitch Albom? The jury’s still out on that question.