Curbed Los Angeles issued a broad correction to a blog post more than nine years after the fact, conceding that the website had been duped by noted media manipulator Ryan Holiday.
“This snippet of an article was published in 2009, centuries ago in internet years, and the original gist of it has been lost to time,” reads an editor’s note almost as long as the original post.
“In the year 2018, a concerned reader wrote in to say that this reader tip was a hoax, one of many perpetuated by a person named Ryan Holiday, who later published a book about all these fibs to media outlets. Do with that information what you will!”
The story of this week’s correction begins back in 2009, when Holiday vandalized a series of billboards in Los Angeles advertising the film version of Tucker Max’s “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” Holiday, however, was no petty criminal, but a flack who had been ordered by Max to gin up publicity for the flick.
“My campaign for ‘I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell’ began with vandalizing the billboards. The graffiti was designed to bait two specific sites, Curbed Los Angeles and Mediabistro’s FishbowlLA. When I sent them photos of my work under the fake name Evan Meyer, they both quickly picked it up,” Holiday explained in his book “Trust Me, I’m Lying,” first published in 2012. “Curbed LA began their post by using my email verbatim.”
In the book, Holiday noted the difficulty of correcting false or misleading news stories on blogs.
“It’s been more than five years since this happened. I included it in the first and second editions of the book. I’ve told the story on NPR’s “On the Media” and dozens of other outlets and as of this writing that story on Curbed.com (owned by Vox Media) is still there and still uncorrected,” Holiday also noted in a footnote of the book’s most recent edition.
The author of the original piece, Dakota Smith, now a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, declined to comment on the issue, referring TheWrap to Vox Media. A rep for the company initially told TheWrap they would look into the matter but then proceeded to ignore multiple subsequent phone and emailed follow ups.
The editor’s note was only affixed to the piece after two inquiries to Curbed editor-in-chief Kelsey Keith this week neither of which were directly responded to.