Update on Pulled Jay-Z Article in The Atlantic

Yesterday FishbowlNY broke the news that The Atlantic pulled an article that detailed an alleged connection between Jay-Z and a sparkling wine that may have lead to the rapper making millions behind closed doors. We reached out to the author, Zack O’Malley Greenburg, as well as The Atlantic for comment, and didn’t hear back from either, which made us even more curious. Natually, instead of going away, we pushed further.

Late last night we finally heard from Greenburg, who encouraged us to speak to someone at Penguin, the publishing house behind his book, Empire State of Mind (the pulled article is an excerpt). We sent them some questions via email, and Penguin President and Publisher Adrian Zackheimresponded. He tells FishbowlNY that The Atlantic has kept both Greenburg and Penguin in the dark about its reasons for pulling the piece.

“[We heard] only that the piece was pulled for unspecified editorial reasons. This was an authorized, negotiated arrangement for the publication of the excerpt. We were told after the fact that the excerpt had been removed. We haven’t heard any more.”

When we asked if there were any challenges to the facts in Greenburg’s book, Zackheim said Penguin completely backed him and his work. “We have no reason to doubt the statements in the excerpt as originally published.  Zack O’Malley Greenburg is a well-respected author and journalist and we stand behind the accuracy of our author’s reporting.”

So what is going on? Why would The Atlantic pull this piece, then try to hide the reasons for doing so from Penguin and us (The Atlantic didn’t respond to our repeat requests for comment)? Obviously, the more the magazine delays commenting on this issue, the more we think something suspicious is at play.

As you can see, this story is far from over.  As soon as we get some answers from The Atlantic – and we won’t stop bugging them until we do – we’ll let you know.

UPDATE: FishbowlNY also just got a reply from Atlantic Digital, Editorial Director, Bob Cohn. Take from this what you will. Seems unusual that neither the magazine or Penguin can come to terms on the edited version. But then, we’re just the messenger.

On Tuesday, we took down from our website an adaptation of Empire State of Mind, which had briefly (and in error) been posted before it went through the TheAtlantic.com’s routine editing process.

Since then, in the course of preparing the piece for publication, we were unable to come to terms for re-posting the article with the publisher of the book.  Consequently, we will not be re-posting the article.

At no point were we contacted by (or asked to take down the article by) any outside entities.