P.I. Managing Editor David McCumber (pictured above) recently sent in the following letter concerning SW's story on the charges of inaccuracy Mark Powell has leveled against P.I. film critic William Arnold. Let the record show that messages seeking comment from Arnold were left unreturned, while Hearst's attorney and P.I. reader rep Glenn Drosendahl declined to address the situation at length, if at all. At any rate, here's what McCumber has to say:
In your story about Mark Powell ("Mark Powell's War on Error" by Jesse Froehling, 9/17/08) and his dispute with the P-I, you allowed him to say unchallenged that our film reviewer, Bill Arnold, is a "fraud" with "desperate ethical problems." I think that's highly irresponsible of him - and you. Mr. Powell has no basis for these claims, and they are untrue and defamatory.
Mr. Powell has taken his copy editing jihad (and job-seeking ploy) over the edge with that assertion. It's one thing for him to point out technical errors in five-year-old film reviews, but it's another to cast aspersions on the ethics of a journalist who has been an admired and trusted voice in Seattle arts coverage for decades. It's unfortunate that he was given a soapbox from which to make such a specious claim.