George Clooney is definitely not accepting the apology offered by Britain's Daily Mail for the since-withdrawn story that claimed his fiancée's mother was opposing the marriage on religious grounds.
Blasting back at the Mail in a second letter published exclusively by USA Today, Clooney escalated his attack on the tabloid, brushing off the apology and saying "either they were lying originally or they're lying now."
Clooney is engaged to Beirut-born London lawyer Amal Alamuddin, whose father, Ramzi, belongs to a prominent Druze family. The Druze are adherents of a monotheistic religion based mainly in Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
The newspaper apologized to George Clooney on Wednesday for a story that cited unnamed family "friends" in reporting that Alamuddin's mother, Baria Alamuddin, wanted her 36-year-old daughter to marry a Druze man. It said Amal Alamuddin risked being "cast out of the community" if she wed Clooney, and claimed several women had been murdered for not abiding by strict Druze rules.
Clooney called the story "completely fabricated" in a statement to USA Today, adding that "to exploit religious differences where none exist is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous.
"We have family members all over the world, and the idea that someone would inflame any part of that world for the sole reason of selling papers should be criminal."
The newspaper said Wednesday that the story had been "supplied in good faith by a reputable and trusted freelance journalist" and said "we accept Mr. Clooney's assurance that the story is inaccurate and we apologize to him, Miss Amal Alamuddin and her mother, Baria, for any distress caused."
Apology not accepted.
Here is the text of Clooney's response:
There is one constant when a person or company is caught doing something wrong. The coverup is always worse.
In this case, the Daily Mail has printed an apology for insinuating religious tensions where there are none. In the apology, managing editor Charles Garside claims that the article was "not a fabrication," but "based the story on conversations with senior members of the Lebanese community."
The problem is that none of that is true. The original story never cites that source, but instead goes out of its way to insist on four different occasions that "a family friend" spoke directly to the Mail. A " family friend" was the source. So either they were lying originally or they're lying now.
Furthermore, they knew ahead of time that they were lying. In an article dated April 28, 2014, reporter Richard Spillett writes in the Mail that "Ramzi, (Amal's father), married outside the Druze faith," and a family friend said that "Baria, (Amal's mom), is not Druze." The Mail knew the story in question was false and printed it anyway.
What separates this from all of the ridiculous things the Mail makes up is that now, by their own admission, it can be proved to be a lie. In fact, a premeditated lie.
So I thank the Mail for its apology. Not that I would ever accept it, but because in doing so they've exposed themselves as the worst kind of tabloid.
One that makes up its facts to the detriment of its readers and to all the publications that blindly reprint them.
With a report from The Associated Press