Meryl Streep Gets Blistered by Some Real Fake News

Another black mark for the brand known as internet journalism

Karl Lagerfeld leads Women's Wear Daily astray.
Headshot of Richard Horgan

The first rule of internet journalism is that vetting a scandalous bit of information takes time. And so, after speaking with Karl Lagerfeld backstage at a Feb. 23 Fendi fashion show, Women’s Wear Daily executive editor Bridget Foley chose either not to confirm with Meryl Streep and the actress’ stylist Micaela Erlanger, or not wait for confirmation, before running Friday with her report.

A day later, the PMC publication was paying a steep price for that decision. Contained in Foley’s Saturday follow-up is the following statement from Streep:

“In reference to Mr. Lagerfeld’s “statement,” there is no “controversy:” Karl Lagerfeld, a prominent designer, defamed me, my stylist and the illustrious designer whose dress I chose to wear, in an important industry publication. That publication printed this defamation, unchecked. Subsequently, the story was picked up globally, and continues, globally, to overwhelm my appearance at the Oscars, on the occasion of my record-breaking 20th nomination, and to eclipse this honor in the eyes of the media, my colleagues and the audience. I do not take this lightly, and Mr. Lagerfeld’s generic “statement” of regret for this “controversy” was not an apology. He lied, they printed the lie, and I am still waiting.”

Separately, Erlanger explained to The Business of Fashion the process through which she and Streep were in touch with Chanel about a potential Oscars dress. She also took aim at the hollowness of Lagerfeld’s claims:

“At no point were there any conversations regarding monetary compensation [for Streep wearing a Chanel creation]. Nor were any other brands considered based on their willingness to pay for placement. This is not how my company operates and is very much a practice in conflict with Ms. Streep’s personal ethics. Any reports or quotes stating otherwise are a complete fabrication.”

The second rule of internet journalism is that reports like the one published Feb. 24 by Women’s Wear Daily are instantly and globally aggregated. Without, again, any further vetting. So as Streep walks down the red carpet this afternoon, per her statement above, she can be sure that viewers in many countries will erroneously wonder if she is being paid to wear that dress.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.