Several fans of my website saw this article.
Tom Ricks’s Inbox June 17 2007
Many of them took the time to write to Mr. Ricks to attempt to correct him. He was directed to my site, where it mentions the misconception that I am a woman. Mr. Ricks typically responded to people by saying that “Just because I make a web-site and claim I’m Santa Claus doesn’t mean people should believe it.” And at one point he told somone that the person who forwarded my list to him had stated that I was a woman.
So at this stage we have, incorrect information about me, my copyrighted material being reproduced without my persmision, and a member of the fourth estate publically challenging my copyright. All of this based on the airtight “Some guy on the internet told me” defense. Naturally I was annoyed at his arrogance and at his stubborn resistance to correction.
Now to be perfectly fair, I’m sure he didn’t intend any harm, and it’s even arguable whether or not any serious harm was done. His column wasn’t intended to be investigative journalism, it was just a lighthearted fluff piece. I was a tad concerned that at some point in the future I would hear “Well the Washington Post said a woman wrote it, so you’re a liar!”. Now from his point of view, I’m guessing that it is an official *BIG DEAL* to admit that you printed incorrect information. And to be fair, nearly anyone in the world could have emailed him claiming to be me. So I can understand his skepticism.
So I contacted Mr. Ricks myself, and explained why this relatively small piece of mis-information could cause me some issues down the road, and how reproducing copyrighted information without permission can be bad. I asked that he print a correction in a future column. His brief response was to demand proof that I actually wrote it.
I wrote him again, demonstrating evidence that I did in fact own the material, and that I was the only Specialist Schwarz enlisted during the correct time period, and that I even had witnesses to some of the events on the list transpiring. While I was writing this he responded. He told me my story checked out. This conjured to my mind an image of him using his military correspondent powers to track down Army personel I have served with and grilling them about me until he had enough details to know I was telling the truth. But in reality, he probably just made an underling look up my copyright in the Library of Congress database.
Since “My story checked out” he offered to run a correction in the very next column he wrote. Perfect. Win for the good guys, I get exactly what I asked for. (Granted he could have, I dunno, apologized or something but hey, who am I to correct his manners.)
Well he was true to his word as we can see here:
And furthermore he wrote me back to say (Quoted directly from the email)
Now I can understand not wanting to admit when you are wrong but this kind of silly semantics argument is really unbecoming on anyone who isn’t either a five year old or a politician. But hey, free publicity is free publicty.