The story of the Dallas Morning News’ “incredible shrinking” investigative report into allegations about the spending habits of Dr. Kern Wildenthal just got an exclamation mark. A paid ad signed by a who’s who of leading Dallas citizens—hundreds of names like Altshuler, Clements, Dunning, Hoffman, Horchow, Lacerte, Prothro, Winspear, Wolens—appeared in yesterday’s News, ripping the paper’s “senseless attacks” on Wildenthal and praising the former president of UT Southwestern as an “outstanding and honorable leader.”
As the “Open Letter” points out, what began with the paper’s screaming charge that Wildenthal had “$720,000″ in sketchy UT-Southwestern spending morphed over time into last month’s DMN report that, oh, looks like he only spent an unsubstantiated $24,000—and was asked to repay just $6,100. At the same time, the ad notes, auditors demonstrated that Wildenthal had personally paid an additional $17,139 over the years that he wasn’t required to pay—which means the institution technically owes him nearly $11,000.
Reached by phone, Wildenthal, who said he was not involved with the ad’s preparation, said he was “very gratified” nonetheless that it had “gleaned the essence” of the situation. Hopefully, he added, its appearance in the DMN “will help me focus on continuing to help UT-Southwestern,” whose foundation he still serves as a senior consultant.
UPDATE: The paper has gone to great lengths now to respond.