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Ageist Trib Retracts 'All Senior Citizens Look Alike' Statement

By Sam Bakken in News on Apr 28, 2005 8:59PM

Giddy over flashy Mob headlines, the Chicago Tribune fucked up this week—twice. Yesterday, Frank Calabrese, an area business man, filed suit against Tribune Co. seeking a minimum of $2 million dollars in damages for defamation and invasion of privacy. On Tuesday, the Tribune published a photo of the business man and identified him as Frank Calabrese Sr., an alleged mobster, in a graphic that outlined the possible hierarchy of the Chicago Outfit mob. On Wednesday, to apologize, they ran a correction and a story on the front page of the Metro section explaining the mix-up, they pulled the photo from their archives, and detailing Calabrese's success in the printing industry. But Calabrese decided he was all about the Benjamins.

[ed. note: If anyone has a law degree issued by a school other than Judge Greg Mathis University (like ours), please feel free to correct our legal analysis.] We think it could be an interesting case, especially because it seems that it may be difficult for Calabrese to prove that the Trib published the photo maliciously, with reckless disregard for the truth, as the correction is now ALL OVER the news.

Then yesterday, they did it again. They ran a photo, taken years ago by a Columbia College student for a project, of Stanley Swieton posing on his bike and identified him as Joseph "The Clown" Lombardo. Swieton is a retired janitor, not an alleged mobster. Today, again to apologize, the paper ran a correction and a story explaining the mix-up and Swieton's reaction. In his Sun-Times column discussing the mistakes, Mark Brown said Swieton didn't want to sue and quoted Swieton as saying, "I just want to get this clarified and get my good name back." But as of 4:00 p.m. today, this AP article, explaining the Calabrese and Swieton errors, has a headline that reads, "Two Men Sue Chicago Tribune for Defamation." It could be another mistake by the media or maybe it's breaking news.

But again in Swieton's case, malice could be tricky. The Trib claims they ran the photo by Lambardo's attorney and he said the photo of Swieton was "definitely" his client though the man in the photo had a fuller face and smoked the wrong type of cigar.

Though from the Tribune's story:

But on Wednesday Halprin denied that he positively identified the photo as being that of Lombardo.

The lawyer said he had told the paper that the man in the picture had the wrong kind of cigar to be Lombardo, and that his face was "too full." In Wednesday's story, the Tribune quoted Halprin observing that the pictured man's face looked slightly fuller and the cigar was larger than Lombardo typically carried but still asserting that the picture was of Lombardo.

Even on Wednesday, Halprin said: "It sure does look a whole hell of a lot like him.

In other clown news, the Trib's Ellen Warren owns a coffee table.