One of the incidents that led to me quitting blogging for The American Prospect was a dispute over a post on Atrios that used a suicide to score cheap political points. But it turns out that there was no suicide.
To review, here's a quick summary of the controversy from my Time.com column:
Last Wednesday, controversy broke out when I slammed two liberal blogs for using an airline employee's suicide after 9/11 to take a cheap shot at President Bush. My post, which initially contained a minor factual error, prompted one of the bloggers, Atrios (aka Duncan Black), to label me the "wanker of the day" and to call on TAP editors to "rethink things a bit." Hundreds of Atrios readers filled the Prospect's comment boards with vitriol. In an email Friday morning, Sam Rosenfeld, the magazine's online editor, asked that I focus my blogging on conservative targets. He specifically objected to two posts criticizing liberals (here and here ) that I wrote after the Atrios controversy. I refused and terminated the relationship.
The original post on Atrios that I criticized read as follows:
The American Airlines ticket agent who checked in Mohammed Atta on 9/11 later committed suicide - unlike the man in charge who, being briefed on the potential threat, told his briefer, "Okay, you’ve covered your ass."
Where did the claim that the ticket agent committed suicide come from? Atrios guest blogger Avedon Carol linked to a Suburban Guerilla post that linked to a Daily Kos diary about an appearance on Oprah by Michael Touhey, one of two agents who checked in Atta, who said on the show that "a good friend" of his told him that "'That girl that checked in Atta committed suicide.'"
But the blogger William Beutler (formerly of The Hotline's Blogometer), who originally noted the lack of documentation for Touhey's claim, has set the record straight after receiving this email from an American Airlines spokesperson:
I stumbled on to your blog today as I was doing an Internet rumor search. You’ll easily guess what rumor I was tracking down. ABC’s Nightline called today asking about a rumor that an American Airlines agent in Boston had checked in Mohamed Atta and then killed herself later out of guilt. I couldn’t remember the name of the US Airways agent who had fabricated the rumor and that is how I came upon your blog – through the omniscient Google, of course.
Because of privacy policies, I can’t give you a ton of information. However, I can tell you that the American Airlines agent who checked in Mohamed Atta is alive.
I realize this is coming to you several months after your blog string, but you’ve now got this for closure.
I'm glad to know she's still alive.