According to the editor’s note, Sloane’s lawyer said Ms. Barrett had “first proposed the invention of a son, and encouraged Sloane to deceive The Atlantic as a way to protect her anonymity.”
“When we asked Barrett about these allegations, she initially denied them, saying that Sloane had told her she had a son, and that she had believed Sloane,” the editor’s note said. “The next day, when we questioned her again, she admitted that she was ‘complicit’ in ‘compounding the deception’ and that ‘it would not be fair to Sloane’ to blame her alone for deceiving The Atlantic.”
The editor’s note said that although Ms. Barrett had denied that the invention of a son was her idea, she had acknowledged that “‘on some level I did know that it was BS’ and ‘I do take responsibility.’”
Ms. Barrett had been an up-and-coming young reporter with a contract at GQ magazine before she was accused of plagiarism at The New Republic.
Those accusations, in 1994 and 1995, were based on a close resemblance between passages and sentences in articles Ms. Barrett wrote and material in articles by other reporters on the same subjects. At the time, she said she had confused her typewritten notes with articles downloaded from the research site Lexis-Nexis. The New Republic printed apologies for both incidents.
Ms. Barrett was also criticized for a 1995 cover article in The New Republic that described The Washington Post’s quest for diversity on its staff as having diminished the quality of its coverage. The article drew angry denunciations by The Post’s editor and publisher and attacks that she was a careless reporter.
Ms. Barrett left The New Republic in 1999 and took a job in advertising.
In a 1999 interview with The Washington City Paper, she described her meteoric rise and fall in journalism: “I was 23 years old, I was writing New Republic pieces, I was writing cover stories for The New York Times Magazine, I was filing columns for GQ, and at the same time, I was bopping around and being a 23-year-old and buying miniskirts with my GQ money. And yes, I loved it, but guess what? One false move and it all came tumbling down.”