A Minimal Maxim Apology: We Give it a 2/10

Editors of Maxim Magazine have issued an apology to their readers for a published review of the Black Crowes’ forthcoming album, Warpaint. The problem with the review was that it was largely fabricated by Maxim’s writer and music critic, David Peisner, who heard only one song from the album. The single track, entitled "Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution," was the only one released by the band, so it would have been impossible for Peisner to hear let alone honestly review the entire CD.

James Kaminsky, Maxim’s editorial director, issued the following apology on February 26:

"It is Maxim's editorial policy to assign star ratings only to those albums that have been heard in their entirety. Unfortunately, that policy was not followed in the March 2008 issue of our magazine and we apologize to our readers."

As apologies go this one was pretty bad and will predictably make things considerably worse for the writer and Maxim’s editors. There was no mention in Kaminski’s very brief statement of a direct apology to the Black Crowes whose album was unjustly trashed. The apology focussed exclusively on Maxim’s readers as if they were somehow seriously harmed by the writer’s decision to bypass “editorial policy.” Left unanswered are the many questions the case raises about whether this is common practice, what Maxim will do to prevent fabricated reviews from being published in the future, or what if anything the magazine intends to do to compensate the Black Crowes for the magazine’s serious breach of ethics and editorial standards. The failure to satisfy most (if not all) of the ingredients of a perfect apology will inevitably push band members to seek not only a more complete public apology but fair compensation for the bad press. Most of what will very likely follow could easily have been prevented -- had Maxim accepted responsibility for publishing the writer’s review and issued something approaching an honest mea culpa, the Black Crowes would likely have let the matter drop. Instead, the editors compounded what should have been considered a pretty serious mistake in the first place by insulting the very people who deserved a decent apology. As expected, the band’s spokesman released the following reply to Maxim’s non-apology:

"Maxim's fabrication of an album review is highly unethical and indefensible. This issue potentially pertains to all artists and their craft, and a publication which apparently has no respect for either. It comes as no surprise that Maxim has elected to apologise to their readers now that the world has been informed of their deception; however, that is not full accountability. In my opinion, Maxim's 'apology' is self-serving damage control by failing to mention the Black Crowes. The appropriate action from Maxim is to immediately issue a public apology to the Black Crowes for disparaging both the band and their soon to be released new album Warpaint without having heard the material."

August Brown, from the LA Times’ The Guide blog said it best:

“One would think that if Peisner were a rogue reviewer firing off baseless opinions like a critical Yosemite Sam, Maxim would be first in line to distance itself from him, but the magazine didn’t here. There’s a whiff of malfeasance in the air to Maxim’s non-apology, but I guess this is where the magazine is drawing its lines for editorial honesty. Maxim’s not supposed to be the Economist or anything, but still. Next they’re going to tell me that their top 10 tips for talking your girlfriend into a threesome weren’t actually field-tested.”