Forbes.com piece pulled after Twitter firestorm

A blog piece on Forbes.com was first eviscerated by a former governor of the state of North Carolina, then deleted--but the internet tends to last forever, as the writer found out.

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  1. Our story actually begins back on January 2, when Forbes.com blogger Darren Heitner chose to post an entry on the Martin report and the University of North Carolina reaction to that report. That piece is now noticeably absent from the Forbes site, as you'll see by following this link:

  2. Admittedly, I do enjoy the fact that the link now leads to a page headlined, "Oops!" Luckily, a few crafty readers managed to save it before it disappeared forever.
  3. The piece fairly obviously relied solely on reports by the News and Observer and substituted using big words (Look at me, I'm a lawyer, I know "mitigated"!) for actual insight. Unfortunately for Heitner, his lone original thought was accusing a former governor of the State of North Carolina, Jim Martin, of "borderline fraudulent statements." 

    Whoops.

    That drew a response from Gov. Martin, who has been on a tear lately responding to some media outlets that are probably accustomed to having the last word. Martin's response was feared lost when Heitner deleted his piece, but don't worry, Darren, the internet never forgets.
  4. Gov. Martin's response--especially the incredibly deadpan Mark Twain quote at the end, which was fantastic--gave some life to a story that had largely sat unnoticed for two full days. Suddenly, Heitner began having second thoughts about his sourcing for the piece. Magically, on Friday afternoon, the entire story disappeared from Forbes.com, and Heitner claimed it didn't meet his personal standards.
  5. Left unanswered--although several tweeted the question to Heitner--was why it met "the quality of his work" for 48 hours, and only fell short of his lofty standards once Gov. Martin pulled out the story's guts, sat them on Heitner's front porch, and lit them on fire. This led to the incredibly satisfying image of Gov. Martin standing back with a thin smile, admiring his handiwork, and taking a long swig of Cheerwine while finishing off the last bite of his Bojangle's biscuit. 

    In theory, Heitner probably thought deleting the story would reduce the attention it received. In reality, it may have had the reverse effect. Readers correctly noted that instead of a retraction, the story simply disappeared--poof!--as if it had never been there. In the words of one Tar Heel wordsmith, that move seemed a little, well, "wussified."
  6. The whole day's events were suitably summarized by, fittingly, a comic strip. We'll let Dilbert have the last word, and you decide who he's talking about:
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