Klosterman on the “Petraeus” letter that wasn’t

Writer Chuck Klosterman tells the story of the non-story

Topics: David Petraeus, New York Times, Rumors, Paula Broadwell, chuck klosterman, ,

As the Internet fired off rumors about disgraced former CIA director David Petraeus’s mystery woman, Paula Broadwell, media outlets started speculating that writer Chuck Klosterman may have advised Broadwell’s husband on how to handle the affair in The Ethicist column in the New York Times Magazine.

Alas, it was not to be; the New York Times investigated the origin of the letter, which turned out not to be from Broadwell’s husband. Though media outlets have since updated their stories to reflect the non-story status, today Chuck Klosterman shared his version of the “non-event” with Grantland:



I’m not sure what I should write about the previous 72 hours of my life, or even if I should write anything at all. Technically, nothing happened. But I’ve been asked to “explain” how and why a certain non-event occurred, and I will try my best to do so. If you already know what I’m referring to, you will likely be disappointed by the banality of the forthcoming details. If you have no idea what I’m referring to, I will now attempt to explain what a bunch of other people desperately wanted to believe, mostly for their own amusement. It’s a good story (not a great one, but a good one).

Klosterman added, ”In fairness, it should be noted that — technically — the connection between the letter and Petraeus was always framed as a rumor. Nobody claimed to have proof of anything. The only problem is that rumors are now reported with the same tone and structure as hard news, and modern readers (no matter what they claim) have been trained to consume gossip and fact in the exact same way.”

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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