The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, June 11, 2002  

A Statement from the Editor

The Rittenhouse Review on Friday, June 7, published a piece, “All in the Family,” written by me, in which Joshua Muravchik, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Midge Decter, writer, were asserted to have a familial relationship, namely, that Muravchik is Decter’s nephew.

We have since learned that there is no such relationship.

This error resulted from my not double-checking the two sources upon which I relied for this information.

The first source was Jerry Sanders, who mentioned the purported relationship in his 1983 book, Peddlers of Crisis: The Committee on the Present Danger and the Politics of Containment.

This book was one of dozens of sources I consulted when writing my master’s thesis, “Neoconservative Anti-Communism and American Foreign Policy,” in 1989. Because the purported relationship was not relevant to my thesis and was not used in that study, I did not independently confirm the story at that time. Although I do not recall Sanders having published any other erroneous information, he apparently was mistaken in this regard.

Compounding the problem is that Sanders was cited as the source for the alleged relationship at the web site of The Public Eye, where I had again encountered this information while preparing the article for TRR. Clearly, I should not have accepted this assertion without independently verifying the information.

The second source upon which I relied was a research fellow at AEI, not Muravchik, obviously, who mistakenly confirmed the relationship in a conversation with me that occurred some 10 or 12 years ago. Given that this scholar had known both Muravchik and Decter for many years, it never occurred to me that my acquaintance would have been so badly misinformed or so cavalier with respect to the facts in this matter.

Last night a colleague of mine contacted a member in good standing of the Podhoretz family who said no such relationship exists.

Although I believe I acted in good faith, I should have independently confirmed this story. The painful lesson learned, or re-learned, here is that one cannot always rely upon other writers, or their publishers, to have confirmed every statement or assertion made in their work. I sincerely regret the error. -- J.M.C.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |