The Most Interesting Story Correction I’ve Ever Made

30 Jun

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So today my profile of Jared Jeffries went live on SLAM Magazine’s website. The story ran in the latest issue of SLAM.

Some quick background: the story was part of SLAM’s annual “Throwback” issue. As my editor said when he sent me the assignment: “Jeffries snuck onto a SLAM cover once and he has a fishing show now.” The second part of that sentence had me hooked and, it turns out, Jeffries is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever interviewed. That’s essentially what the profile is about, so I urge you to go read it. I promise, Jared Jeffries is more interesting than you think. He told me about the time he went alligator hunting with Brad Miller and all the crazy fishing trips he’s taken.

During our conversations he mentioned someone by the name of Josh Temple, a close friend who charters boats for a living. I looked Temple up, gave him a call and he sent me this long e-mail full of all sorts of anecdotes and quotes.

Now, you might have noticed that in the online version the following correction appears at the end of the article.

“The print version of this article misstated Jeffries’ possession of a teddy bear named Mr. Biggles. Jeffries does not own a teddy bear.”

This, I felt, was something I should explain, so here we go: most of the stories Temple shared with me came via e-mail. One that stood out: how there was this teddy bear Jeffries brought with him everywhere he went. Here’s what I wrote in the magazine:

Also, Mr. Biggles must always be nearby.

That’s Jeffries’ teddy bear. According to Josh Temple, who’s been fishing with Jeffries for nearly a decade, Mr. Biggles can never leave Jeffries’ side. Jeffries was carrying the raggedy bear with him the first time he met Temple. The bear was brought along a few years later when the two chartered a yacht to celebrate Jeffries’ marriage. It was also there not long after when they set sail to help Jeffries get over his divorce. Jeffries has been caught cuddling with Mr. Biggles in bed. It took Temple a few years, but eventually he was able to summon up the courage to inquire why, exactly, an extremely large grown man was toting around a stuffed animal everywhere he went.

The answer didn’t provide much clarity.

“You mean you don’t have one?” Temple remembers Jeffries responding. “Shit, Mr. Biggles is the man.”

All that came from Temple. The mistake I made (and, journalistically, it was a bad one) was not verifying with Jeffries. Then again, WHAT KIND OF PERSON WOULD MAKE UP A STORY ABOUT A TEDDY BEAR?!

Turns out, a ship captain named Josh Temple.

Here’s an e-mail I got from Jeffries this week.

Lol
Why would you believe Josh on the Teddy Bear thing. Lmfao. There was no Mr. Biggles.
You’re crazy. Please take that out of the online article.

I emailed Temple and relayed the message. His response:

Don’t let Jared snowball you he’s a shiester! He takes Mr Biggles everywhere he goes! He probably doesn’t want it made public but those are the facts!

At this point I was confused and also annoyed. Also, I couldn’t believe that I was actually going back and forth trying to verify the existence of a Mr. Biggles.
I reached back out to Jeffries. His response:
On my kids that’s not true. Lol
He then forwarded me an e-mail from Temple that made it seem as if this whole thing was a prank of some sort. So, there you go. My bad, for sure. But also gives you a little insight into the type of people Jared Jeffries hangs out with and why he’s such a fun dude.
Also, I’m sure this is exactly the type of stuff Woodward and Bernstein spent their time on.
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