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February 12, 2007

Slate's Jack Shafer punk'd by monkey fishing story

Slate's Jack Shafer was forced to apologize to his readers after an writer admitted last week that a story about monkey fishing published in Slate in 2001 was entirely fabricated:

When two Columbia University graduate students in journalism began work earlier this month on an article about Jay Forman, a writer whose 2001 article in Slate about fishing for monkeys in Lois Key in Florida proved to be riddled with lies, their investigation prompted Mr. Forman to take new action. After long silence on the topic, last week he called Jack Shafer, his editor for that article, and admitted that he had fabricated the entire piece.

“He never took the boating trip to the key. The whole thing was an imagined fiction,” said Mr. Shafer by telephone.

At the time the article was published, Mr. Shafer was Slate’s deputy editor and was in the running to become its editor (the position instead went to Jacob Weisberg). After the article was questioned, Mr. Forman scaled back his account but still argued that it was essentially true.

Mr. Shafer, who is now Slate’s editor at large and writes a column on media criticism, published a brief account of this most recent disclosure last Tuesday and apologized to readers. [NYT]

Here's the original monkey fishing article, Kinsley's partial apology in 2001, and Shafer's full retraction.

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