To: The Reader
Although the Reader has traditionally favored a rather relaxed stance when deciding what degree of familiarity between author and subject is acceptable, your May 19 feature article “All the Wrong Answers” pushes that familiarity to the extent that its entire content must be called into question.
As I have stated publicly, I take full responsibility and apologize for my role in the 1995 Steinmetz decathlon scandal. But what I find amazing is that in a piece which rails against my ethical lapses the reporter himself would engage in such questionable behavior in pursuit of a story. How objective can this reporter really be when he clearly has a close, prior relationship with Steve Grossman and Steve’s wife, Mary Valentin, two of the principals in his article whose viewpoints he unabashedly outlines, promulgates, and supports? Apparently he feels no constraints about attending the May 11 Cheaters screening with them. Nor does he fret over compromising his objectivity by dining with them at the reception following the screening, or by reminiscing with them on the drive home as they jointly composed the tenets of his article, accepting their idle ruminations and scattered recollections as gospel.
Mr. Clark never identified himself as a journalist to anyone present; he preferred to skulk around the room, trying to eavesdrop on various people, secretly recording their conversations, aided and abetted by Grossman and Valentin.
Mr. Clark’s obvious bias pushes him into contradictions within the piece. On page 24, for example, he writes, “That betting thing, that never happened,” but in the next column, same page, he states, “Minkoff insisted on giving Plecki 3-to-1 odds.” On page 28, I am described as looking “uncomfortable” and avoiding eye contact, yet in the next column he quotes that this is “The high point of his life.” Which are we to believe?
Clark speculates endlessly as to what I was thinking and what I was doing that evening. I was there; why didn’t he bother to ask me a single question? I spoke openly and honestly during the panel discussion, and afterwards I spoke with reporters and anyone else who approached me during the reception. I would have gladly spoken to Mr. Clark, had he the courage to confront his subject directly. I think it’s always much more honest, proper, and convincing for a reporter to ask the hard questions and then to recount the answers, but this is clearly not Mr. Clark’s philosophy. I personally expressed my admiration for Larry Minkoff to Steve Grossman and Scott Glabb, telling them how in the four years I worked with Larry I knew him to be a great teacher and a tremendous motivator. Mr. Clark however opted for innuendo and insinuation to describe my thoughts and actions.
It appears Mr. Clark has bought into one of the assertions made by a Steinmetz student in the film, that two wrongs make a right. I know the Reader would not publish a piece about me written by a close friend of mine, and I think Mr. Clark should have been held to the same standard. You may also want to be a bit more circumspect when reviewing the tactics of your less-than-straightforward reporters. To assume that to praise the career of Larry Minkoff requires such ignoble efforts does his memory a grave disservice.