Philly Mag is in the news again, this time for issuing a retraction and apology in the wake of Anthony Gargano's article, "The War Within." Gargano's piece chronicles a Marine sniper, John P. Boudreau, who claimed to have killed a whole bunch of people in the Middle East, and the internal struggles he experiences while grappling with the "reality" of having killed so many people.
Turns out that the guy was making it up.
Philadelphia magazine editor Tom McGrath published an apology on The Philly Post on Friday explaining that the piece was largely sourced by Boudreau himself. So, even though the article went through the normal fact-checking process, many of the exaggerations and/or falsities made it into the final article.
In retrospect, of course, 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 references the debate surrounding Robert Huber's "Being White in Philly" piece while addressing Philly Mag's second controversy in as many months.
Philly Mag has never shied away from controversial topics or edgy stories (witness the hubbub that ensued over our cover story last month about race in Philadelphia). But no matter what the story, we have always prided ourselves on trying to tell the truth—to the best we can discern it—in our pages. With this story, we failed in that mission.
Gargano, a WIP host, also issued a statement in the form of a blog post on The Philly Post.
And so 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.
While Gargano admits some fault and apologizes for his missteps, he's also upset.
I don't know what stabs at me more: that I prayed for this man on countless nights, crawling into his twisted cocoon with fantastic gullibility, or that the story provides a disservice to the true heroes who protect our nation.