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Editor Who Misled 'Oregonian' About Colleague's Death Is Fired

The "family friend" who told The Oregonian that its editorial page editor was in his car on Saturday when he died of a heart attack turns out to have been another editor at the newspaper. She says she was trying to protect Caldwell's family from the public embarrassment that would come with the truth: that he had been in the apartment of a young woman with whom he was allegedly having sex.

Because she misled others at the newspaper, Kathleen Glanville is now out of a job. She had been an editor on the Oregonian's breaking news team, Willamette Week says. But Glanville reports she's been dismissed:

"I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to The Oregonian for the many years that I had the privilege to work there," she wrote on her Facebook page Thursday. "I was fired this afternoon because in the midst of great sorrow for the loss of my dearest friend, I did not share with the paper the embarrassing details of his death, which I knew only because of my close relationship with his wife. I understand the need my newspaper felt ... to punish my violation of journalistic ethics in some way."

As for how the newspaper was misled and on Monday printed erroneous information about Bob Caldwell's death, Oregonian editor Peter Bhatia todayposted a long account that says "misinformation, not a coverup," caused the initial error.

It wasn't until later on Monday, he says, after a reporter obtained a police report about Caldwell's death, that "to our shock, we learned the true circumstances of what happened Saturday."

Monday night, the Oregonian told the true story. As for the decision to divulge the tawdry nature of Caldwell's death, Bhatia writes that:

"Frankly, this was a no-win choice. If we went with the story, we would be criticized for besmirching a good man and further hurting his family. If we held the details back, we would be accused of a cover-up. ...

"In the end, the call to publish ... was the only decision. ... First, it was the truth and it was news. Second, if the person in question were of similar stature elsewhere in the community, we would almost certainly have published the circumstances of his death. Third, we had the original details wrong and the paper's integrity required we clarify the facts."

Caldwell's widow, Lora Cuykendall, wrote earlier this week on her Facebook page that her husband "would have understood why The Oregonian needed to print the story."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.