Alicia Keys vs. Blender: Who’s the liar?

In an old game of ‘she said’ and ‘they said,’ Alicia Keys is peeved about a Blender article where she claims that she didn’t say what they claim that she did say (about Tupac and Biggie being killed by the government, which even the Los Angeles Times’ Chuck Philips hasn’t come up with yet). It’s not the first time (or will be the last time) a magazine published a story where a star said “I never said that!” I was just curious about what could be done to clear things up in cases like this.

Obviously, both Blender and Keys can’t be totally right about this. One of them is fibbing, at least a little. Even if you give the benefit of the doubt all around, the end result would be that the magazine did inadvertently misquote her.

And even if you’re not a fan of Blender, you have to still believe that they’re not ignorant about a story like this and would just make up something that grabs quotes like this. If that turned out to be the case, it would case a lot of damage to their reputation (as their sibling Maxim learned recently) and cause them to lose other big interviews if they got a rep for twisting stories around. It’s true that in this case, the initial story of Keys’ speaking out on a government conspiracy to literally kill off gangsta rap made news outside of Blender and they were glad to get the recognition but after seeing so many other publications get hit recently by the truth squad (thanks many times to blogs), would they want to risk their name in terms of a few headlines? You can be as cynical as you like but I still don’t buy it.

If I were taking bets on it, I’d say that they didn’t get the quotes right. If Keys did spout out that theory, it would make sense that she’d want to retract it but judging by her background and what she’s said and done before, it seemed like a pretty uncharacteristic comment. That doesn’t mean she’s incapable of saying such things but again, you have to thing about what’s the likelihood she would say that to a national magazine, knowing that it would be published.

Could I be totally wrong about this? Of course! Though we live in a YouTube and blog age where any recorded gaffe can be posted for the whole online (and eventually offline) world and be repeated everywhere endlessly, but in a case like this, where only the interviewer and Keys (and maybe anyone else around there) know what was said, the proof rests on an interviewer’s tape (or probably iPod).

So how do you clear up this mess and figure out what was really said and what the context was? Blender could publish the whole unedited transcript. Having done a lot of interviews, I can attest that just about any interview in its complete, unedited form is pretty boring and difficult to read — there are a lot of pauses, broken thoughts, lost threads, lapsed memories and such (also how often do you want to hear ‘um,’ ‘ah’ and ‘well…’?). They could also post the whole audio file of the interview. There are a few problems with that though. As with an unedited transcript, Keys and her management can still claim that the thing is doctored. Also, a full broadcast of the interview probably wasn’t part of the agreement that the magazine had with Keys and at this point, she probably wouldn’t agree to that.

If hearing the source is even a problem, how about clearing the comments with Keys? A lot of magazines don’t like to do that and it’s not because they’re trying to play ‘gotcha’ games with their subjects (though some publications certainly do that) but because they know that they can get spun or have a harsh comment toned down, with the subject saying ‘Oh, that’s not what I meant… I was saying…’ (which of course might not be the truth).

In cases like this, unless the magazine or Keys comes forward and admits a faux pas, we may never know what Keys really said or meant. So what’s the right answer in figuring out who’s right in a case like this…?


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