My Response to The New York Post, The Media, and The Influencers

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I had planned to write about the media’s reporting and the resulting response relating to The Frank Meza tragedy earlier. But, as some time had passed, I decided it would be best to move forward. I knew I would always be asked about Frank, but I did not want to write any more articles on the subject.

After a disappointing article in last Sunday’s New York Post, I decided it was time to address the media coverage and the resulting response.

A few weeks ago, I received the below email. After some time, I agreed to be interviewed.

“It’s a general look at how people can cheat, do cheat and get caught in the NY Marathon”

We initially spoke for just under 1/2 hour. The conversation was in line with the initial email. We spoke about cheating in general, methods of cheating, etc.

About 1 week later, Kirsten reached out saying she had a couple of quick follow up questions.

Those questions were about Meza. Mostly, I spoke about the changes that resulted from the tragedy. The same changes outlined in the article I posted in August.

Kirsten has said that she would send the link to the article once it was live. She never did. Maybe she knew how I would feel.

My issues with the article which

I’ve communicated with the author were that

1) The headline did not accurately represent my statement.
2) I was told that this was a general article on cheating at The New York Marathon.

I understand that the Meza story will always be tied to my story, so I agreed to answer those questions, not expecting that my cooperation would lead to a change in focus of the story. I did not say anything that was inconsistent with my past statements regarding Frank.

Basically, I said that if Marathon Investigation continues to exist, that I’d always write about cheating that were as egregious as Frank’s. That should go without saying. It does not mean that I am unsympathetic, or that what happened has not affected me deeply.

The Media

Much of the initial media coverage of Frank’s death was similar to The Post’s. It was convenient to either make the direct link to Frank’s suicide and Marathon Investigation or to insinuate a direct link. As I learned, many people don’t read past the headline or the first paragraph of a story.

After his disqualification, a story on Frank appeared on Good Morning America, the anchors laughed at him. The Dan Patrick radio show talked about Frank. The story was going viral nationally in the days before Frank’s suicide.

Inside Edition knocked on Frank’s front door the day before Frank committed suicide. The day after his death, they were in his living room reporting on his suicide and the alleged bullying.

Google Trends
The chart shows the popularity of the search term ‘Frank Meza’. The chart begins with my first article and ends on July 3rd. The chart shows the popularity of the search term relative to the highest point over the chosen time frame.

None of these stories blamed their own reports of Frank’s cheating. The New York Post reported on Frank’s disqualification on July 3rd, the day before his suicide. Did they ask themselves if they would do it again? Of course not.

If the media wants to link my reports to Frank’s death, then they at the very least need to acknowledge the reach of the national media, and the coverage Frank received immediately preceding his suicide.

There are some people that are not fans of Marathon Investigation. I have no issue for those with genuine criticism. I am happy to debate them. I am happy to learn from their perspectives.

Others tried to capitalize on the strategy to further their personal agenda.

Kelly Roberts

I initially mentioned Kelly in an article nearly three years ago. Although she claimed the article was an attack on her, it was not.

In June of 2017, I wrote about Kelly after she was found to have bandited more races – Bandit Selfie Repeat – Popular Blogger Continues To Ignore The Rules. This story ended up going viral mostly because of her then sponsor, Oiselle’s defense of banditing.

It is against that backdrop that Kelly made the following posts on twitter in the days following Meza’s death.

There is a lot to address, and Kelly had a lot of time to walk back her statements.

First, she posted a segment of a personal conversation. I was under no obligation to reach out to Kelly, or even to remove any comments from the Facebook thread that she was referring to. But I reached out and apologized for statements that I certainly did not encourage. In order to make her point, she was deceiving her followers. She was lying by omission.

Here is the rest of the conversation.

The rest of the conversation did not fit into her narrative. The part where I once again apologized for comments that I did not make and did not encourage. The part of the conversation where I found and acknowledged the inappropriate comments.

When I saw these posts by Kelly, I was at a low point. Both the situation itself and the backlash were taking a toll. I found it extremely disingenuous that Kelly would post this conversation, and deliberately leave out a key portion, and to do so on the day that Frank’s cause of death was officially determined.

Even when she was questioned about these posts in responses to her tweets, she did not acknowledge her omissions.

Kelly also tweeted this:

Again, I have never encouraged harassment against Kelly or anyone. While I am not legally responsible for the reaction to my articles, I do not allow harassment of anyone on the site or my social media. I have never encouraged that anyone contact Kelly or anyone else.

Kelly cannot say the same. Kelly posted this after sharing an (inappropriate) comment she received on her blog.

I have never, ever crossed the line that Kelly crossed above.

If you claim to be against harassment and bullying, you can’t just be against it when it’s convenient. You have to be against the behavior, no matter who the recipient is.

Conclusion

I did not want to write this article. I put it off for four months. But, the New York Post article made me realize that if I don’t address inaccuracies such as their headline, or the false narrativeS that ‘influencers’ such as Kelly Roberts make public, that people will believe what they put out there.

More than once, I’ve seen comments in different groups that reference bullying and harassment on the part of Marathon Investigation. When I address these allegations and ask for examples, the accuser never has an example.

I have been criticized for not being a ‘journalist’. But, when I see how some actual ‘journalists’ and publications do business, I have no doubt that I have acted more ethically than most of them. I try not to embellish the details, or post unnecessary fluff to make my articles more readable or more interesting. My headlines always are intended to reflect the content, not to mislead someone into clicking.

I always try to act with integrity when I write an article and decide on writing an article. I stick to the facts, and if I offer an opinion, I make it clear that what I am writing is my opinion. I stand by what I write.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. I have always found Kelly Roberts incredibly manipulative and more concerned with her own image than anyone else.

    With Nike coming under fire for the way it treats female athletes, I’m shocked she was willing to be sponsored by them and isn’t speaking out for someone who claims to care so much about women’s rights.

    No Kelly, no one cares about your weight or your gender. Your own actions and lies are the reason for why you are called out. But of course, she flips the narrative to claim ‘bullying’.

  2. What gets me is Ms Roberts’s claims of online shaming. She can only be shamed if she had done something shameful to begin with.

  3. “I have been criticized for not being a ‘journalist’. But, when I see how some actual ‘journalists’ and publications do business, I have no doubt that I have acted more ethically than most of them.”

    Understatement of the Century!

    • eh. The NY Post is a tabloid. No real journalists there. Of course they were going for something sensational. That’s unfortunate that he spoke with them, for sure. I hope it won’t turn Derek off from speaking with ACTUAL journalists in the future, but I bet it will.

  4. Derek, you have always reported with an objective eye, calm demeanor, and remarkable composure even while attempting to navigate the often cruelly lawless terrain of online interactions. Thanks not only for what you do but also for doing it with such humanity.

  5. I know this is hindsight – but I would never talk to the NY Post. The site is nothing but click-bait. No real journalism there. Sorry you had to go through that.

  6. Hi Derek,

    Having read your articles for years now, and having listened to the podcasts you recorded for a while, I have no doubt that you have far more integrity and compassion that most accredited journalists. This latest situation reminds me a bit of that whole, “Desperate Housewife Stalks Male Supermodel in Sports Death March” debacle with Pam Reed. Unfortunately, big media companies often care more about clicks that accurate reporting. In any case, keep up the great work you’re doing Derek; it’s much appreciated.

    John

  7. People will always blame somebody for something, even when they are at fault to begin with. Listen to constructive criticism and ignore the naysayers. There are quite a few of us reading your blog that don’t speak up much, but we believe you are doing good.

  8. Thanks for the article Derek; I have no doubt it was difficult to write and continually address this matter.

    One thing that a lot of cheaters have in common is that they look to place the blame on others. It’s always easier to take the attention off themselves when they can blame someone else. That is what I see usually happening when Derek highlights a serial cheater in one of his articles. That is what Kelley Roberts is doing and I’ve lost a lot of respect for her as a person and an athlete because of it.

    Let me be clear, readers should not make personal attacks on these cheaters. But, cheaters should be held accountable for their actions. I’ve always held running as the purest of sports. Man vs man/Woman vs woman against the elements. What are we as a “running society” if we just start accepting cheaters in our sport?

  9. Ugh, Kelly Roberts feeds off of inciting sympathetic adulation from her few social media followers. Of course she doxxed and advocated for the doxxing of people, an actual crime. Whoever she was referring to in the “nah, I was going to call his boss” post, should sue her. But you’d probably only get restitution in nuun and sportsbras, her compensation for the blog that she started after sexually harassing men while stealing race entries. Classy lady

  10. Ugh, Kelly Roberts feeds off of inciting sympathetic adulation from her few social media followers. Of course she doxxed and advocated for the doxxing of people, an actual crime. Whoever she was referring to in the “nah, I was going to call his boss” post, should sue her. But you’d probably only get restitution in nuun and sportsbras, her compensation for the blog that she started after sexually harassing men while stealing race entries. Classy lady

  11. Stay true to your purpose, the press and media always want the angle that gets the most clicks, objectivity is not their strong point. You didn’t ever cross the line and you actually have nothing to apologise for. Move on.

  12. All of these things are common:
    A reporter not fairly reporting what someone has said
    A reporter writing the story fairly, but someone else putting an unrepresentative headline
    A story’s headline changing to something that will attract more clicks

  13. What about the people running that get robbed of their official place in a race.
    These people aren’t concerned with them. People need to be held unaccountable. I have followed Don Shipley for years as he goes after phony Navy Seals. You can’t lie and cheat your way through life without consequences.

  14. We support your hard work. Unethical people, including disingenuous so-called “journalists,” will never understand why truth and integrity are important in society. It is meaningful to runners to expose cheats and protect the integrity of races. Many of us have been robbed by liars and we appreciate you. If someone thinks you go too far, they either haven’t read all of your articles (especially those specifically against doxxing and shaming) or they value cheating more than truth. We can only speculate, but the mental state that leads someone to crave glory via premeditated, complicated cheating is not healthy. A person in that state would be very unpredictable. You are not the cause of their pain, they are 100% responsible.

  15. The headline in the actual physical paper is slightly worse, if you can believe it. In huge letters: “Agony of de-cheat” and under that a sub-headline: “Sleuth: I’d out ‘suicide’ racer again”

  16. “I have been criticized for not being a ‘journalist’. But, when I see how some actual ‘journalists’ and publications do business, I have no doubt that I have acted more ethically than most of them.”

    This is so true. I love Marathon Investigation because it’s basically all facts and Derek’s inferences about whether the facts point to someone cheater are very, very conservative. No doubt, Meza was next level cheating sophistication, but once the bike photo came out, there was no denying it. You’re not responsible for how people respond to you pointing out the truth. I’ll never understand why what you write could be considered “bullying.”

  17. last weekend, I was in a 24 hour race. The race began at night, ran all night and ended in darkness the next evening. I thought about your story of Kelly Agnew cheating at timed races. I knew full well that it would be so easy to shut off your head lamp, cut the course and turn your head lamp back on, all night. But, what I got from doing the race could not be obtained from cheating. Actually, everyone there was running for INNER rewards, because you got the buckle at 50k. Any miles after that were because you wanted to. The feeling I got for going on for 50 miles “just because I can” was amazing. I was amazed at the inner drive I felt. Cheating would have only made me feel like [email protected] 3 weeks ago, I got second in my age group in a marathon. I would have hated it if a cheater knocked me off the podium.

    So, good job Derek.

  18. Derek, I’m sorry that you have to deal with the shameless NY Post reporter and other click-bait journalists who don’t seem to know the first thing about journalism. I’m sorry that you have to deal with terrible people like Kelly Roberts. Please continue to do your fine work. Your regular readers know that your work marked by integrity and a complete absence of malice. When your enemies are unethical journalists and narcissistic bandits, I think it means that you’re doing something good and right.

  19. The NY Post article wasn’t even really a story. I don’t know what it was – seemed like a half-baked thought that took all of 20 mins to write and had no purpose whatsoever. I think we all know the NY Post is a glorified tabloid that writes opinion pieces which are thinly-veiled “news” stories but dang, that was really shoddy.

  20. I’m fine with this site but I do believe there should be an expiration date on the articles so as to not make a single mistake last a lifetime. 3 years seems reasonable.

  21. Serial cheaters, elaborate cheaters, adult cheaters who do it as a way of life in a game or hobby, are not cheating in just one way. If they are nice in one area of their life, that tends to turn from being a virtue into being just a coverup. Everyone they know becomes just a dupe and a tool to them. And if you follow true crime, some of these people progress to worse and worse crimes, just because they think they are so much smarter than everyone else.

    Little kids are taught to follow game rules and play fair, as part of basic socialization. If someone is not able to play by the rules as an adult, that person is not safe to be around. If they take being caught as a wake-up call, it could save them as a person. But if they cannot admit that they need to change, that is on them.

    You are doing good impartial work. The only people who fear you are cheaters. (Proud you are from Ohio!)

  22. I have always appreciated your reporting because it calls out cheating behavior without being negative about the person. Cheating behavior definitely needs to be called out and I’m glad that you do it.

  23. Keep up the good work and try not to let poor reporting affect you. Also, note that the journalist writing an article usually does not write the headline and may not even see it until after the article is published.

  24. I stopped investigating suspect performances in Australian marathons in 2015. At the time there were about 25 serial marathon cheats. I stopped because I thought naming and shaming was only making bad situations worse. Frank Meza’s suicide was foreseeable in that exposing 100s of cheats at least a few of them would be expected to react in extreme ways.

  25. About time you addressed these. It really helps me a lot. Reading so many things bashing this website, and no defense to it…left me feeling like they were right. I’m happy your side has addressed them finally.

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