Calvin Trillin Issues Some Important Corrections to Recent News Stories


January 14, 1990
Because of an editing error, an article in Friday’s theater section transposed the identifications of two people involved in the production of Waiting for Bruce, a farce now in rehearsal at the Rivoli. Ralph W. Murtaugh, Jr., a New York attorney, is one of the play’s financial backers. Hilary Murtaugh plays the ingenue. The two Murtaughs are not related. At no time during the rehearsal visited by the reporter did Ralph Murtaugh “sashay across the stage.”

March 25
Because of some problems in transmission, there were several errors in yesterday’s account of a symposium held by the Women’s Civic Forum of Rye on the role played by slovenliness in cases of domestic violence. The moderator of the symposium, Laura Murtaugh, should not have been identified as “an unmarried mother of eight.” Mrs. Murtaugh, the president of the board of directors of the Women’s Civic Forum, is married to Ralph W. Murtaugh, Jr., an attorney who practices in Manhattan. The phrase “he was raised with the hogs, and he lived like a hog” was read by Mrs. Murtaugh from the trial testimony of an Ohio woman whose defense against a charge of assault was based on her husband’s alleged slovenliness. It did not refer to Mrs. Murtaugh’s own husband. Mr. Murtaugh was raised in New York.

April 4
An article in yesterday’s edition on the growing contention between lawyers and their clients should not have used an anonymous quotation referring to the firm of Newton, Murtaugh & Clayton as “ambulance-chasing jackals” without offering the firm an opportunity to reply. Also, the number of hours customarily billed by Newton, Murtaugh partners was shown incorrectly on a chart accompanying the article. According to a spokesman for the firm, the partner who said he bills clients for “thirty-five or forty hours on a good day” was speaking ironically. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. The same article was in error as to the first name and the background of one of the firm’s senior partners. The correct name is Ralph W. Murtaugh, Jr. There is no one named Hilary Murtaugh connected with the firm. Ralph W. Murtaugh, Jr., has at no time played an ingenue on Broadway.

April 29
Because of a computer error, the early editions on Wednesday misidentified the person arrested for a series of armed robberies of kitchen supply stories on the West Side of Manhattan—the so-called “pesto bandit.” The person arrested was Raymond Cullom, twenty-two, of Queens. Ralph W. Murtaugh III, nineteen, of Rye, should have been identified as the runner-up in the annual Squash for Kids charity squash tournament, in Rye, rather than as the alleged robber.

May 18
Because of an error in transmission, a four-bedroom brick colonial house on Weeping Bend Lane, in Rye, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph W. Murtaugh, Jr., was incorrectly listed in Sunday’s real-estate section as being on the market for $17,500. The house is not for sale.

June 21
In Sunday’s edition, the account of a wedding that took place the previous day at St. John’s Church in Rye was incorrect in a number of respects. The cause of the errors was the participation of the reporter in the reception. This is in itself against the policy of this newspaper and should not have occurred. Jane Murtaugh was misidentified in two mentions. She was neither the mother of the bride nor the father of the bride. She was the bride. It was she who was wearing a white silk gown trimmed in tulle. The minister was wearing conventional ministerial robes. Miss Murtaugh should not have been identified on second mention as Mrs. Perkins, since she will retain her name and since Mr. Perkins was not in fact the groom. The number of bridesmaids was incorrectly reported. There were eight bridesmaids, not thirty-eight. Their dresses were blue, not glued. The bridegroom’s name is not Franklin Marshall.

His name is Emory Barnswell, and he graduated from Franklin and Marshall College. Mr. Barnswell never attended Emory University, which in any case does not offer a degree in furniture stripping. Mr. Barnswell’s ancestor was not a signer of the Declaration of Independence and was not named Hector (Boom-Boom) Bondini. The name of the father of the bride was inadvertently dropped from the article. He is Hilary Murtaugh.

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From the book THE LEDE: Dispatches from a Life in the Press by Calvin Trillin. Copyright © 2024 by Calvin Trillin. Published by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

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