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In the wake of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, The National Enquirer published an article that, in retrospect, even it admitted had stretched the truth too far. Actually, the report didn’t so much stretch the truth as it did completely disregard it.

The piece claimed that on the night of his death Philip Seymour Hoffman was freebasing cocaine with playwright David Bar Katz and that the two were also lovers. The report also contained quotes from Katz about how he had seen Hoffman use heroin frequently. All of this was untrue; Katz had not even spoken to the Enquirer.

So Katz sued the paper for libel (he was more frustrated with the comments attributed to him about Hoffman's drug use than the allegations about being gay) and two days later, the article disappeared from their website and was replaced with a retraction and an apology. The Enquirer claims that it was duped by a source claiming to be Katz, as opposed to just having pulled the story out of thin air.

As a mea culpa for this singular instance of untrue reporting that has ruined The National Enquirer’s otherwise sterling reputation, the paper and it publisher will fund an annual $45,000 grant benefitting the newly formed American Playwriting Foundation. The foundation was established by Katz.

The paper has also purchased a full-page ad in The New York Times concerning the incident. Katz told the Times that the settlement is “enough for the foundation to give out these grants for years to come.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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