Newsweek Magazine was forced to issue an embarrassing full retraction Tuesday for a piece that said Marilou Danley, the companion of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, had used two social security accounts and had two husbands at once.
One person familiar with Newsweek’s internal operations said it had recently gone on a reporter hiring spree without a corresponding increase in editors, which led to journalistic sloppiness.
“There has been a hiring wave at Newsweek, [which] hired at least 10 to 20 new writers in the span of a month,” said the individual, who asked for anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak on the matter. “They don’t really have as many editors, didn’t really bulk up the editing staff as they did with the writing staff.”
The original article, by breaking news reporter Melina Delkic, cast Danley in a seamy light.
“The one person who holds the key to solving the mystery of why the Vegas madman murdered 59 and wounded nearly 600 people was herself a shadowy figure with a convoluted life of her own, featuring two simultaneous husbands, a bankruptcy, two Social Security numbers, multiple addresses in several states and even different ages depending on what state records you review,” wrote Delkic.
But further investigation led to the retraction, Newsweek said in its post.
“The initial report was based on the marriage record of Danley, who was known under a different name when she married Geary Danley in Clark County, Nevada. Newsweek mistakenly matched that record to a different person who, like Danley, had also gotten married in Clark County and lived in California,” the magazine said. “The mistake was revealed when a Newsweek reporter re-interviewed a family member of one of the women who had initially declined to comment in our story.”
Danley said in a statement Wednesday that she knew nothing about Paddock’s plans.
“I knew Stephen Paddock as a kind, caring, quiet man. I loved him and hoped for a quiet future together with him,” she said in a statement. “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) October 4, 2017
In January, Newsweek was forced to retract a different story which praised the assault of prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Since being purchased by IBT Media in 2013, the venerable legacy magazine has progressed in fits and starts — and a lot of layoffs. In July 2016, Newsweek trimmed about six staff members. A few months later, editor-in-chief Jim Impoco and Newsweek.com executive editor Margarita Noreiga were also ousted. The broader IBT newsroom also dropped more than 30 employees in June of 2016, Politico reported at the time.
The Wrap has reached out to both Delkic and Newsweek news director Cristina Silva, neither of whom responded to comment.