Exclusive: To Kevin Deutsch, crime reporter: Where is the Boston Marathon bombing victim’s classmate? Where is the man who worked out at the same gym as the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter? Where are the two men who taunted an ex-cop in Bronx Central Booking after he killed his girlfriend?
iMediaEthics has looked into a handful of Deutsch’s articles since we read the New York Times‘ Feb. 25 editor’s note citing its problem of not being able to find the existence of two of Deutsch’s sources for a story on fentanyl use on Long Island.
We have sent out dozens of information requests by phone and e-mail for fact checking, and responses are continuing to come in.
At the same time, the New York Daily News, the 8th-largest circulation newspaper in the U.S, Newsday, the 13th largest, and now, Newsweek are conducting reviews of Deutsch’s work.
Random friends, work colleagues and classmates of key figures in Deutsch’s big national news stories continue to not check out.
And Deutsch, 35, a longtime crime reporter formerly on staff for Newsday and New York Daily News, continues to fail to provide iMediaEthics with any evidence that the sources we have found to be dubious really exist and defends all of his work in blogposts, tweets and e-mail.
Exclusive updates that follow our first two stories:
- Newsweek is now conducting a review of the three articles it published by Deutsch, it told iMediaEthics. So Newsweek, the Daily News and Newsday are all continuing reviews of Deutsch’s work for them. Newsday’s review began nearly a month ago.
- Queens College told iMediaEthics that Deutsch resigned from teaching journalism on the morning of the first business day after the New York Times‘ editor’s note appeared. The resignation was effective immediately and he didn’t show up to teach class that day. The school was surprised and had to scramble to find someone to cover his class, then hire an instructor to replace him mid-semester.
- iMediaEthics has found four more instances of dubious sourcing — a third missing source from his Newsday Orlando coverage, another one from his Boston Marathon coverage, and two from a Daily News crime story.
- This makes the total, so far, of eight sources with discrepancies — two from the New York Times, two from Newsday we reported on last week, and the four new ones we are reporting on today.
There are now eight total sources with discrepancies, proving basic fact checking steps failed, such as the reporter or his editors calling the school, NYPD, or the shooter’s gym to verify one of Deutsch’s lucky scoops. The following is, in brief, a list of the sources, the descriptions Deutsch provided for them, what the problem is, and what, if any, explanation Deutsch has offered.
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- Jason Hart, a “gym-goer…of Port St. Lucie” who described Omar Mateen, who belonged to Gold’s Gym Port St. Lucie, working out. iMediaEthics spoke with Gold’s Gym Port St. Lucie general manager Alexis Carrol who checked, saying no one with that name is in their system. Deutsch’s explanation? Hart told him he was a member outside the gym.
- Joel Gutierrez, “32, an accused drug dealer” described as taunting Eddy Coello at Bronx Central Booking. The NYPD, which is in charge of Bronx Central Booking, told iMediaEthics that no man with that name was arrested during the month in question. Bronx Central Booking told iMediaEthics it is only where people await arraignment. Deutsch’s explanation? “I interviewed both men, who provided information demonstrating their accounts were accurate.”
- Ronaldo Simms, “locked up for fighting” and described as taunting Eddy Coello at Bronx Central Booking. Again, the NYPD told iMediaEthics that no man with that name was arrested during the month in question. Deutsch’s explanation? Same excuse: “I interviewed both men, who provided information demonstrating their accounts were accurate.”
- Patricia Dula, “friend and classmate” of Lu Lingzi, the Boston University student who was killed at the Boston Marathon bombing. Boston University, where Lingzi was enrolled as a graduate student, told iMediaEthics no one with the name Patricia Dula was a student. Deutsch’s explanation? “I have no doubt she was a student at BU, though it’s unclear what name she was enrolled under.”
- Eric Baumer, a “colleague” “whose security guard shifts at the PGA Golf Club at PGA Village overlapped with Omar Mateen’s in 2015.” Mateen’s employer, G4S, told iMediaEthics they never employed anyone with the name Eric Baumer. Deutsch’s explanation? Baumer “self-identified” as a security guard, and “What name he worked under or has listed on his birth certificate I can’t be certain, but I had no reason to doubt his story.”
- Aahil Khan a “childhood friend” and “classmate” of Omar Mateen. Mateen’s school districts told iMediaEthics no Aahil Khan was enrolled. Deutsch’s explanation? Newsday’s headline called him a “classmate,” he never did, but he never asked Newsday to correct that designation.
- Jeffrey Sheridan, “a resident of Oyster Bay, N.Y., who works as an addiction counselor and whose 34-year-old nephew died from a fentanyl overdose on Staten Island in 2015.” The New York Times posted an editor’s note Feb. 24 saying it couldn’t locate Sheridan. Deutsch’s explanation? He must have given him “something other than their legal name,” which is “standard occurrence” covering drug and addiction.
- Andrew Giordano, “a 26-year-old resident of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, who overdosed on a fentanyl-heroin mixture.” The New York Times posted an editor’s note Feb. 24 saying it couldn’t locate Sheridan. Deutsch’s explanation? Same excuse: He must have given him “something other than their legal name,” which is “standard occurrence” covering drug and addiction.
Backstory on How Investigations Began
Last month, the Baltimore Sun reported questions about Deutsch’s new book Pill City, which is subtitled “How Two Honor Roll Students Foiled the Feds and Built a Drug Empire”. The Sun‘s reporters contacted the New York Times, which had published a freelance article by Deutsch in December, and Newsday, where Deutsch was on staff for four years.
After the New York Times‘ Feb. 24 editor’s note revealed that it could not locate two of Deutsch’s sources, iMediaEthics looked into several of Deutsch’s articles.
As we reported earlier this month, “Exclusive: 572 Stories by Fmr NY Daily News Crime Reporter under Review after NYT Admits Source Fail,” iMediaEthics found two problematic sources, Aahil Khan and Eric Baumer, in two of Deutsch’s stories on the Orlando Pulse shooting published in June 2016.
Deutsch reported that Baumer was a “colleague” of Mateen’s whose “security guard shifts at the PGA Golf Club at PGA Village overlapped with Mateen’s in 2015.” iMediaEthics contacted G4S, which employed Mateen as a security guard, and G4S said it never employed anyone with the name Eric Baumer. “We have no record of an employee (current or former) named Eric Baumer (or close variation),” G4S director of communications Monica Lewman-Garcia told iMediaEthics last week.
iMediaEthics also reported that Aahil Khan, described as a “classmate” in the headline and “childhood friend” of Mateen’s, didn’t attend school with Mateen. The Martin County School District and St. Lucie Public Schools told us they had no record of any student named Aahil Khan.
(After publication of that article, Deutsch admitted in an e-mail to iMediaEthics he didn’t ask Newsday to correct the characterization of “classmate” from the headline anytime during the past nine months. He wrote to iMediaEthics that he was too busy but asserted it was Newsday’s error and that iMediaEthics should publish a correction. We asked Newsday if it erred and are waiting for a response. If the headline was mistaken, iMediaEthics will correct.)