After reading it, I wrestled with the idea of whether or not I should write about it here, and finally decided against it because, frankly, the story had no source and seemed a little fishy.
I did, however, post it on Twitter at about 12:30 today and it received a fair amount of response.
So imagine my shock when, sometime just after 1 p.m., the TSN website had the story as the lead item on its website. I couldn't believe that a reputable news organization would run with a story that I wouldn't even post on my personal blog.
This, unfortunately, is the nature of journalism today. TSN surely wanted a juicy story for its website, particularly on a day they would be broadcasting a Habs game. This just fell in their laps.
But to each their own, I told myself, and went on with my day.
Just about an hour later, I check back on the TSN website and the story is no longer the lead item. In fact, the headline can't even be found on the main page. Instead, the story is buried into another story about Kostitsyn returning to the Bulldogs after having a meeting in Montreal with Bob Gainey yesterday. It adds that RDS had confirmed that the fight story was not true, except there was no mention of it on the RDS website. Instead, RDS had this far more interesting story on how Kostitsyn had been assured by Gainey that he will either be traded or called up to the Habs in the coming weeks.
Out of curiosity, I decided to check back for the original Langlois story on msn.ca at around 3:00 p.m. and, surprise, surprise, the story had been removed. It was replaced by this story on how Kostitsyn is not a lost cause, comparing his case to that of Mike Ribeiro. If you check the archives of the Langlois columns, there is no link to the original story about the fight between Gomez and Kostitsyn.
Luckily for you, the good people at msn.ca did not kill the direct link to that story, which can be read here, unless they have caught the slip up by the time you read this.
I would have to imagine the Canadiens caught wind of this and asked msn.ca to take the story down, or threatened Langlois that his accreditation would be revoked, because normally a reporter who was confident enough to write a story would be confident enough to defend it when the backlash hit. Evidently, Langlois wasn't that confident in his story, or at least msn.ca lacked confidence in their columnist.
I originally gave the story a tiny little bit of credence simply because Langlois is not some media nobody. He is an accredited journalist whom I've seen many times at the Bell Centre, though I've never said a word to him.
But reading his bio at MSN.ca, you learn that he's worked for just about every major media outlet in the city, from CKAC to RDS to Radio-Canada, and here he is writing an obscure column at msn.ca. Just like you start to wonder when a player like, I don't know, Jaroslav Spacek bounces around from team to team, you also have to wonder when a reporter is unable to hold down a steady job.
In the span of a few hours, this "journalist" was the source of a potentially huge controversy that died before it ever had a chance to gather significant steam. In the old days, before the Internet, perhaps something like this would have been said on the radio, but it never would have had the impact it did online, where word of the lurid tale spread like wild fire.
I don't know if this is of interest to any of you, but as a working journalist I found it quite amusing, and at the same time depressing. It's situations like these that give the media, particularly here in Montreal, a very bad reputation. I guess I'm writing about it to send the message that if you read something, even if it's written by a "reputable journalist," use your own common sense before deciding whether or not it is true.
Because, as they say, you can't believe everything you read in the papers. Or in this case, on the Internet.