In a recent post on this blog, we questioned a statement made by CEO of Exercise New Zealand Richard Beddie. Beddie told reporters that CrossFit was responsible for “…6 deaths…”, which is completely false. After we questioned this claim, the editors immediately posted a retraction, but refused to look into Beddie’s statement further.
Our article had some interesting results. First, the Facebook page for the Exercise Association of New Zealand received nearly twenty 1-star reviews from those outraged about Beddie’s remarks. Within a few hours Exercise NZ removed the feature from their page entirely. The NZ Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) responded to our post on their Facebook page, claiming that the Stuff article contained a “misquote” from Beddie regarding CrossFit.
I decided to try to call Beddie directly, and contacted REPs. After a number of attempts, I finally reached him on the phone. He was willing to answer my questions regarding REPs, but refused to discuss the CrossFit article over the phone. Beddie claimed that this was because he had been misquoted in the CrossFit article, and he requested I email him my questions.
But if this was a misquote, wouldn’t the editors at Stuff have explained this in their correction? Instead they wrote that “…reports of the deaths were unsubstantiated.”
I decided to contact the original author of the article. She confirmed that the quote was accurate, and her only mistake was not checking Beddie’s claim for accuracy. As of today, it has been 5 days since I emailed Mr. Beddie this question:
“You were quoted in a recent article as having said that ‘CrossFit has resulted in six deaths overseas and rendered an Australian man paraplegic …’ You suggested on our call that this was a misquote, but the published correction does not state that this was a misquote, but that ‘reports of the deaths were unsubstantiated.’ Can you explain this?”
Beddie has not responded. Humorously, Beddie often has written on his blog about inaccuracies in the media. In his own words,
“Headlines are important. Facts are important. Media screw up both too often.”
It’s too bad Beddie can recognize this problem, but still chooses to be part of it. With the reporters and editors confident that Mr. Beddie was accurately quoted, there seems to be nothing to back his claim that he was simply “misquoted.” A look at the REPs response to our original article indicates we were correct in our assessment of the organization’s motive:
Beddie’s organization has a strong opinion about the need for CrossFit trainers to be “registered” with REPs. Beddie seems to know that nothing generates support for bureaucracy and regulation like fear of death and injury, even when those fears are based on lies.