Bates, for one, didn’t see it that way, and wasn’t inclined to second-guess his magazine’s approach. “If we could have foretold the future, we probably would have had the story ready,” he said, but he had no regrets. Sparking discussion and follow-up reporting is “part of what we’re in business to do,” he said. “If the word’s out all over the place, that’s terrific.”

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Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.