MacLean was using wine reviews from other writers without their permission and was not properly crediting them. Palate Press broke the story.
A week later, she wrote a whiny letter to readers about how people are so mean on the Internet, and she never meant any harm. And she doesn't make much money. AND more than 40 writers had emailed her in support. I'd like to see the names of those 40 writers who support the use of other writers' work without permission. Who knows, maybe they exist.
On the post, she soaked up the fawning approval of a dozen commenters, some of whom are probably real people. She deleted comments she disliked. It's her blog: that's not the way most of us operate, but it's her right, and I'd be lying if I said I've never done that.
The local Toronto papers aren't interested in the scandal. Her fans love her. Who cares what Palate Press thinks? She's got a little Ontario empire, and the bitchy Internet wine world will return to biting somebody else's tail soon enough.
But she just couldn't let it go. She had to take one step too many, and that step was this:
MacLean posted this comment on her own whiny letter on Christmas Eve. I can't imagine why. But you can't easily get away with lying in the modern Internet world.
Here's the letter the Chairman of the Circle of Wine Writers actually sent to her:
From: Stuart Walton
Sent: December-18-12 9:07 AM
Subject: Circle of Wine Writers
I am writing to let you know that the concerns raised by recent discussion of the content of your website have been raised in CWW committee. This email is by way of letting you know what the opinion of the committee is, and to invite you of course to make any response to colleagues' concerns, or indeed any general comment, about the matters raised.
We would advise you that we don't consider it to be best ethical practice to cite other members' work without full attribution of the writer's name and publication, and that you might consider it a courtesy in future to seek the permission of individual authors before quoting from them. Where the quotations have been taken from copyright material, as I am sure you are by now aware, you may well in any case find yourself open to legal challenge by copyright-holders, whether these be the writers themselves or their publishers.
I'm aware that you offered a statement in solution of the outstanding grievances last week, and I would certainly advise you to address the issue of missing attributions on your website as urgently as you are able. I should also stress that this is the view of the executive authority of the CWW, and is not to be considered in the light of any other private representations that have been made to you by individuals or organisations. If you are able to repeat for the CWW the assurances you gave to others last week, I am sure the concerns expressed by colleagues can be allayed, and this matter can be promptly resolved.
Circle of Wine Writers
Let me restate that I have no idea why MacLean wanted to mention the Circle of Wine Writers. It's not a regulatory body and it's hardly known even in the UK, much less in North America. Its approval or disapproval would have no real impact on her.
In fact, the CWW's "review" would be embarrassing for most people. Read the beginning of Walton's letter again: the CWW's members are concerned about MacLean's ethics and are discussing them in committee, even though the organization is powerless to do anything, except perhaps not invite her to lunch the next time she's in London.
When she published the comment above, the matter was definitely NOT considered closed, as you can see from Walton's letter. And you can infer from the fact that I got a copy of this letter on Christmas Eve, within hours of MacLean's published comment, that some members of the CWW don't appreciate her trying to use their organization for cover.
As I said at the top, I don't want to blog more about Natalie MacLean. But the journalist in me wants the record to be set straight. I would have posted Walton's letter as a comment on her own blog -- that's really where it belongs. But as I said, she immediately deletes anything she doesn't like. And she sees it as a personal attack, which I assure you, this is not. And I'll prove it: I want to help you, Natalie.
When you read this Natalie, as I know you will, please pay close attention to the following.
It's clear you don't understand why people disagree with you and I believe it's because you don't have the same sense of morality as others. This means you're probably never going to understand why others pick on you for your ethics. But you also clearly don't like being picked on. So do this: DON'T LIE anymore. People are paying attention and you'll get exposed. Telling the truth won't protect you from every nasty person on the Internet, but it will cut down on posts like this that make you look undeniably bad. The cloud over you will go away faster if you don't keep seeding it.
Please don't make me, or some other blogger, do this again.
UPDATE: Don't miss the 3rd comment immediately below this post, from Dean Tudor. It adds a lot.