Twisted Lies

by Michael

If people think Esquire, or publications/sites like it, are a reputable publication(s), they need to check out other times where the people that write for them have misquoted celebrities, twisted things around, or sometimes downright lied about their subject.

In all three cases and possibly more, quotes were attributed to celebrities that were twisted around or completely false, and some even tried to claim a tape existed of the interview. In the case of fashion designers Liz Claiborne and Tommy Hilfiger, they reportedly went on Oprah and made racist remarks.

The media went wild about these stories...the problem?

*Both Liz and Tommy NEVER appeared on Oprah prior to these stories being written about them, although Tommy did go on to clear his name at a later date.

If Esquire and other publications like it have been PROVEN to lie, then why is it so hard for people to believe that Val Kilmer is also a victim here.

Obviously, Esquire is not going to admit to having lied, and if they have such taped evidence, then why didn't they produce it from the onset?

Cheers, Michael

You Disproved Your Own Point

Hi Michael,

We're glad to see you're still engaged, and we must say, you get 5 stars for your loyalty and for "standing by your man."

Beyond that, your logic is non-existent.

The first point to take away from your comments is that Esquire and all other publications, both online and off are suspect, but is infallible. You're saying, "If Snopes said it, it must be true."

Yet throughout your exchanges with us, you are faulting us for believing something was true because it appeared in Esquire. Another example of the pot calling the kettle black. He who lives in glass house should not throw rocks.

Here's what we mean --

You cited three articles on to prove this point:

"If people think Esquire, or publications/sites like it, are a reputable publication(s), they need to check out other times where the people that write for them have misquoted celebrities, twisted things around, or sometimes downright lied about their subject."

Yet, not one of the three stories that you cited hint in any way that Esquire, or the people who write for it, have "misquoted celebrities, twisted things around, or sometimes downright lied about their subject."

In the first article you cite, the flap arose from a Spike Lee quote that appeared in Esquire, claiming that Liz Claiborne made an unflattering remark about blacks on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

There is no allegation that Lee was misquoted. The problem is that the story Lee himself related to Esquire was false, and Esquire apparently accurately printed what he said. says, "Spike Lee's contribution to this rumor's progress was an important one because his stature caused confidently-stated misinformation to appear in the pages of a widely-read magazine where even greater numbers would see it and likely believe it. As powerful as urban legends are, they become even more persuasive when authoritatively voiced by celebrities."

What Ms. Mikkelson (the editor) is saying there is that because it appeared in Esquire, it is more likely to be believed. That would be because of the reputation Esquire has built over the years. If it were well-known that Esquire regularly misquoted celebrities, why would any celebrity agree to be interviewed, and put his or her reputation (and career) in the hands of a magazine that was known for misquotes?

Next, you cite an article that is tangentially related to the first story only by topic (alleged racism by clothing designers), but which has absolutely nothing to do with Esquire, nor does it mention Esquire in the article at all. It does mention that the original story supposedly appeared in a Philippine tabloid. Does that mean you are equating Esquire with a tabloid, as far as its ethical and reporting standards?

The third article you cite deals with a comment allegedly made by Groucho Marx, and wrongly reported in several places. Did you happen to notice that the authority cited for proving that the story was false was an interview of Groucho Marx for Esquire? says, "The one person who would undoubtedly know the truth is Groucho himself, and he maintained in a 1972 interview with Roger Ebert for Esquire magazine that he never said it:

". . . I get credit all the time for things I never said. You know that line in You Bet Your Life? The guy says he has seventeen kids and I say: "I smoke a cigar, but I take it out of my mouth occasionally"? I never said that.

This debate really should end here, based on a complete lack of evidence that Groucho ever said any such thing, coupled with his unequivocal statement affirming that he did not . . . ."

So Ms. Mikkelson is apparently saying here that Groucho's statement, printed by Esquire, is the correct statement that should be believed.

The difference here is that you're saying that Val Kilmer's statement, printed by Esquire, is not correct, and should not be believed.

Yet despite the fact that the Esquire interview was published four years ago, and the fact that it has been re-published in at least two books, Kilmer apparently has never denied making those remarks until now, when he's thinking about running for public office and those comments cause a huge outcry.

If he didn't make those statements, why have we been unable to find any previous denials? We even asked Kilmer's assistant to provide us with earlier denials, if there were any - yet we received none. Our own research didn't turn up any previous denials, and Esquire's editor-in-chief is also not aware of Kilmer disputing the quote on any earlier occasion.

If we use your logic here: "If Esquire and other publications like it have been PROVEN to lie, . . .", and we fill in the blanks so it looks like this, "If Kilmer and others like him who are seeking or holding public office have been PROVEN to lie, . . ." then the logical conclusion is that because other political figures and wannabes have been proven to lie when caught saying something stupid, then . . . .

Esquire hasn't produced any tapes because it doesn't need to. It has stated, directly from the top executive, and not through an assistant editor, or an administrative assistant, that the interview was taped, and that before it was published, a separate member of the magazine's staff (not the writer), listened to the tape to verify the quotes were accurate BEFORE they were published.

It's standard practice for a reporter to tape record an interview precisely for the reason of double-checking quotes before they're published. Do you know why they do that?

The reporter does it to protect himself and his publisher against a lawsuit by the person interviewed. And the person being interviewed agrees to it being recorded because he wants to be sure he's accurately quoted.

Truth is an absolute defense to a claim for defamation of character. Once it is proved that the statement was made and the quote is accurate, the lawsuit is out the window, and the one falsely claiming he didn't say those things is out a BIG pile of money, because he will most likely be counter-sued, and most likely will have to pay the lawyers for BOTH sides. And he's paid all that money for the privilege of proving to the world that he's a bigger jerk than they already think he is.

If Kilmer wants to maintain that he didn't make those statements, the only way he'll be believed is if he sues Esquire and wins. The fact that he didn't deny the statements for four years, until he was contemplating a political career, makes it extremely unlikely that his denial will be believed. After all, we all know that politicians always tell the truth, right?

Go back to, and search "Esquire misquoted" - you'll get "0" results. That means Snopes apparently hasn't found a case where Esquire misquoted someone. So let's go back to "If Snopes said it, it must be true."

Comments for Twisted Lies

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Snopes Doesn't Lie
by: Michael

Even if Spike Lee was mistaken in his statements, Esquire still printed the story as if it were true, without checking facts first. They didn't even bother to check to see if he might have been mistaken and printed it anyway. Spike Lee may have been the one to get his facts wrong, but Esquire perpetuated the falsehood.

You're missing the point. The point is that what Spike said in the interview was QUOTED ACCURATELY by Esquire. Val claims he was misquoted by Esquire.

The problem: Not only was what Val Kilmer (allegedly) said not true, it didn?t even belong in the context of the interview. There was no reason to use that example to explain method acting. It was a gratuitous insult to more than 8 million Vietnam vets specifically, and to all other vets by association.

The point he was trying to illustrate is preposterous anyway. Let's take out the comments about Vietnam, and replace them with examples from his movies.

Pretend Kilmer said he knows what it's like to pilot a jet better than a "real" fighter pilot because he played a fighter pilot in TOP GUN. Would YOU get in the back seat of one with him at the controls?

In case you missed the earlier comment, Kilmer is SO good at his preparation as a "method actor" that ALL of his scenes in TOP GUN were filmed on the ground. That's because he threw up like a pukin' dog in his only flight in an F-14. (Those are verified facts from a long-time friend who was there.) He probably didn't "experience" much of what it's like to pilot the jet, since he was busy pukin' his guts out. I'd say he doesn't have a clue what it's like to actually BE a fighter pilot - at least in the air. It seems pretty apparent he couldn't think fast enough to realize he was about to say something stupid that would be published, so it's probably a long shot that he could think fast enough to fly a jet moving faster than the speed of sound. And fight the bad guys at the same time.

Or we could use the Doc Holliday example - does Val know what it's like to be dead better than someone who's really dead? regularly debunks false news items and is a reputable site, everybody knows that. They always check their facts. You cannot dispute that.

And Esquire is a reputable magazine, "everybody knows that." I don't dispute that Snopes checks their facts. I do dispute that they're always right, because I've found cases where they weren't, and I'm not the only one. Google "Snopes is wrong." Even Barbara Mikkelson is human.

I think you're trying to twist things around to suit your own agenda, and it's you who loses credibility.

We reported what we found, and gave both sides the opportunity to respond. Believe whichever side you choose. We don't know Mr. Kilmer, and we haven't heard directly from him, just his assistant. We heard directly from the Editor-in-Chief at Esquire, who apparently thought this matter was important enough to respond personally.

As for

Snopes (Part 2)
by: Michael

As for Val not refuting the claims against him, everybody who KNOWS Val would know that he never reads his own press or reviews. He doesn't have that kind of ego or need to see himself in print. He would not have known the story had recently resurfaced if I had not pointed it out to him.

Dude, reporters in NM asked him about it last week. But we appreciate you telling him that he has a serious PR problem with our audience.

He did not know that Klosterman had misquoted or blatantly lied about him, which I believe is the case, and it is Esquire who needs to prove otherwise, not Val.

No one who knows Val read the interview? Where's his publicist, his agent? If they didn't read it, he needs new ones. Where were you? And Esquire doesn't need to prove anything - it's not trying to get elected.

Esquire is not going to admit to any wrongdoing for fear of a lawsuit. If they really have this tape, they need to produce it, otherwise it is likely it doesn't exist, just like Liz Claiborne never said racist things on Oprah because she wasn't even there.

No comparison. Val hasn't disputed that he was interviewed, he WAS there. What is disputed is what he said. The only way Val will convince more than 8 million Vietnam vets is if he sues Esquire and wins. Ask him to explain to you why he won't.

It does not matter whether the Snopes stories come from Esquire or any other publication, the journalistic "ethics" or lack thereof, retain the same principles.

NOT SO. There are millions of online rags with no journalistic training and no ethics, who will repeat any rumor without checking facts. And many publications are known for making up entire stories - you know, like the one about Liz and Oprah. But Esquire is not one of them. The precise reason they record interviews is to protect themselves against lawsuits.

Since you're going to believe whatever Esquire says anyway, no matter what, I will not bother with this site anymore, but Val will be kept up to date with any attempt to besmirch him.

Here's why I believe what Esquire says in this case: I have a journalism degree and a law degree, and have worked in both professions. I am aware of the standing and reputation of Esquire. (Even Snopes apparently hasn't reported a case where they've misquoted someone.)

I know that it's standard practice for a reporter to record interviews and check quotes against the tape before publication. So I believe that was done. I've also been quoted in major publications, and after the interview, they called me back and read me the quotes they intended to use, to make sure they were accurate (I'll bet that conversation was recorded, too).

So my experience from both sides of the interview process tells me it's more likely than not that the interview was taped, which is why I asked Esquire that question. I also know what has to be proved to win a lawsuit. I'm certified as an expert in the law.

by: Leave the Vets Out of Campaign Smear Please

Sorry, I came in on the tail end of this post and there has been some interesting reading here but I do have a question..

I believe one of you quoted the following "If he didn't make those statements, why have we been unable to find any previous denials? We even asked Kilmer's assistant to provide us with earlier denials, if there were any - yet we received none. Our own research didn't turn up any previous denials, and Esquire's editor-in-chief is also not aware of Kilmer disputing the quote on any earlier occasion."

Are you saying that you have talked personally to Esquire? Might we see their response in their own words. Just curious because you are quoting an editor. Ed. note: Please read Esquire Confirms Val Kilmer Quote which links to the page where you submitted your comment.

As for all this talk it seems to me that Mr. Kilmer was kind enough and something that not many actors would do to let you hear his side of the story. Most of us know how the paparazzi chase after actors and some of the stories they print to make a buck are crazy to say the least. I think that we should leave Mr. Kilmer alone. I am not that aware of all of this but I can spot campaign smear when I see it and really guys this all looks like a bunch of smear to me. It really is sad that the vets had to be pulled into something of this nature. I think you should go back to the drawing board and find another means to defame Mr. Kilmer and please leave the vets out of this. Thank you...

Ed. note: Thank you for joining the discussion. If you will take the time to go back and read the history of the discussion, however, you will see that this is ALL about the vets and how they were (allegedly) maligned with false stereotyping perpetuated by Kilmer in an interview for Esquire. This was not a case of paparazzi hounding an actor. The actor invited the writer to his home to interview him.

This web site exists to promote and protect the interests of active duty military and veterans and their families. It is not about Mr. Kilmer or his political ambitions. We believe that if he is running for office, the voters are entitled to know what he has said that displays total ignorance of the facts. There are thousands of Vietnam vets living in New Mexico. They might be interested in reading these quotes from their governor wannabe, don't you think?

I am the daugther of a Military Officier
by: Anonymous

Okay, I have gone back and read all the information. Thank you for pointing that out to me.

My father served 20 years in the military. I myself visited Walter Reed Hospital as a young girl when the boys were being sent back injured from Vietnam. Some of you reading this might well have been at Walter Reed Hospital and remember a young girl of 6 years old who used to come in and sing and dance for you. I had very dark hair and green eyes. I would also go around and talk to some of you and try to cheer you up.

I was raised in a very highly moral (military raised :-)) environment and taught to always weigh thoughts and words carefully and I am sure some of you know what I am saying. I feel the pain of many of the vets on this site who are hurt and upset by what they have been told that has been said but I still think this entire post is wrong. Why, do I think that? Because, for one, the article is 4 years old, and why didn't websites like this blog about it when the article first was printed?

The truth of it all is that somewhere someone heard that Mr. Kilmer was going to run and maybe they don't want him as their governor so what do they do they stir up the vets. They know that you have worked and lobbied hard for your rights. But what they don't remember and I do remember is how you lobbied to get wheel chair accessibility into buildings. The right to work in jobs as a disabled vet and the right, yes, the right, to hold your head high and be proud to be called a veteran of this country.

I love you guys and have high respect for you and it really hurts me to see you used like this and you are being used by those who are trying to make Mr. Kilmer look so bad. The shoe instead should be tossed at the one who first broke that article again 4 years later because they are the ones who are using the vets. Why would you want to say something or bring something up that you know would hurt someone if not for political gain.

God bless all of you and I hope that you see the truth in my words and let this mess go. It's not worth throwing insults or blame anymore. Peace be with you and within you ... much love to all of you.

Thank you Anonymous
by: Anonymous

First of all anonymous, thank you for that beautiful response. You are right, mmm is being used by another entity and unfortunatly have slipped right into their tangled web.

This is about defending wrongly-maligned Vietnam vets. We saw the quote, and we publicized it, disputing the stereotype based upon our personal knowledge about Vietnam vets, because we think it's time to correct these lies that continue to be repeated often enough that they're accepted as true. Then we gave Vietnam vets the opportunity to respond to the quotes. There is no tangled web here. Sorry to disappoint you.

Second, Janet, when I replied as anonymous, you jumped all over me for not leaving my name. Why didn't you jump all over this person for writing in anonymously.

I think maybe you misunderstood my comment. I've been back through all the (150 or so) posts on this topic, and except for responding to Michael that I couldn't change that field for him to identify him as the author of posts that he accidentally submitted anonymously, the only comment I have made about someone submitting anonymously is this: "Care to take on an identity instead of lurking in anonymity? Doesn't have to be your real name - no one will know." I invited you to assume an identity because with too many people posting as "anonymous," it gets confusing, for me and for other readers. If you perceive that as "jumping all over you," you have my apology. Please imagine my position, attempting to moderate these comments. If you pick a name to post under consistently, even if it's not your real name, at least people (including me) can follow your comments. That way, when you accuse me of insulting you, I can go back to your posts to see what you're talking about.

By the way, my father was a vet also. He was a doctor and one of the many who helped put our wounded back together. I am proud of him and of all of our vets.

Thank you for your father's service.

You have insulted me several times here, was it because I didn't start my reply, Hi I am the daughter of a vet?

No, it probably had more to do with the tone of your posts. I believe it's fair to say that you are being accusatory. Review the difference in the post you are applauding and yours, and perhaps you'll understand the difference in the responses.

You need to let this whole thing go and quit name calling an feeling that you have to have the last word. You are making vets look ridiculous by continuing this assault on Mr. Kilmer.

Thanks for sharing your opinion. We are not "continuing an assault" on anyone. We are publishing comments by our readers, including yours, and we will continue to give them the opportunity to post their comments. You're also welcome to post again if you have something else to contribute to the conversation. Thanks.

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