Before we delve into the comments that provoked this post, let us look at the cover of the book and try to define what Chet’s role in it is.
Is Chet a Ghost Writer?
Chet is not a ghost writer because his name is visible on the cover. A typical ghostwriter’s name would not appear at all. And a ghost writer is not normally responsible for vetting the accuracy or veracity of the author. Most ghostwriters do the writing and the author tells the story to the ghostwriter.
It’s up to the author and the publisher to vet the book for truthfulness and possible libel.
Chet’s case is a little different. His name – no matter how small – is seen on the cover and there are references to him in the book as being an “award winning investigative journalist.”
His name on the book warrants that he believes the story is truthful – for that is what it is marketed to be – a nonfiction book – a memoir of Toni Natalie – who warrants herself to be a truth teller, a whistleblower and a heroine.
Chet is a co-writer for a non-writer author – and he is responsible for decent writing – the readability of the book – and for getting down Toni’s thoughts accurately – whether those thoughts are honest or deceptive or a mixture of both.
It is not fair to say that Chet is responsible for lies in her book.
Chet did not have a lie detector with him when he interviewed Toni.
This is, after all, Toni’s story. She is the sole source of this book that bears her name as author.
It is fair to say that Chet is responsible for accurately recording his source – Toni – her story – which I think he did.
For instance, if Toni told Chet that she dropped out of the 12th grade and Chet wrote that she dropped out of the 10th grade in high school – then shame on Chet.
But if Toni lied and said she dropped out of the 10th grade, when she really dropped out of high school in the 12th grade – just a couple months before graduating – because the lie sounded better than the truth – then one cannot blame Chet for trusting his source.
He could not be expected to do what I did – look up her old high school yearbook and find out that she lied.
Maybe Chet could have vetted the lies, but that may not have been in his contract. Vetting is a process – fact-checking is an endeavor – that takes lots of time and costs money. Did their contract call for Chet to vet Toni?
I doubt it. That would have been the last thing Toni wanted.
There is another problem: Toni is paying Chet – out of her share of her book advance from her publisher. Chet, therefore, does not control the content. He works for Toni – is her employee. He is not her partner.
There is no book without Toni, but there can be a book without Chet. The book publishing industry is filled with ghostwriters and co-writers – wordsmiths – who could replace Chet in an instant.
Chet is expendable. Toni owns the deal. That’s why his name is so small on the cover and hers so large.
Chet is dependent on Toni and Toni is his source both for the content of the book and his paycheck. It would be pretty hard to kick when your source [and employer] tells you something hazy or suspect.
Did Chet bear responsibility to vet her tales – to challenge her stories – and possibly get himself fired?
That’s a grey line for me.
The book is written in Toni’s voice. When the book reads “I did this – or I did that” -it is not Chet, but Toni.
Toni tells the tales. Chet wrote them down as if they were true – for that was his job.
Chet’s knowledge of Nxivm, of course, helped Toni get some of the stories down in a decent context. Chet had written about Nxivm in the past – as a reporter for the Albany Metroland – and he did some good work then.
But even then he quoted Toni – and told some of her stories – which we have come to learn were not true.
But, if Toni lied then and Toni is lying now, Chet is only recording them.
In the old Metroland stories, Chet, as a reporter, prefaced Toni’s stories with, “according to Toni Natalie.”
And, in the book, the “according to Toni” is assumed – since she is the author of the book – with Chet, in very small font, as co-writer.
Chet did not judge and may not have been able to judge the truth – or lack of it – not only because he trusted Toni – but because he was dependent on Toni. This is her project. The publisher was buying her story, not his.
Comments To Reply To
So here are the comments I referred to above that got me into this post:
I Have No Evidence That Chet Harassed Anyone
I think it’s important to state that, despite this comment of One of the Nine, I have seen no evidence that Hardin was fired from his last job for sexual harassment – other than the word of Natalie who made it a point to spread this rumor about him.
I have no current plans to check this rumor out, for it is not really part of the Nxivm investigation.
For my part, I am more interested in Toni’s book. Over time, I have come to have serious doubts about anything Toni says – even when she is only telling tales behind other people’s backs – not putting them in print.
It may be pathological.
The funny thing about Toni is that she can be very charming and seemingly more interested in your welfare than your own mother – but sadly – behind your back – she will tell the most vile lies about you. I saw her do this to me and others.
So, until I learn otherwise, I have to place a large dose of doubt about Toni’s story that Chet was fired for sexual harassment at his last job. I am not sure – even if it is true – why Toni needed to tell this story about Chet.
This is something that friends don’t spread around one another.
At the end of the day, Chet might be innocent. He may not have been fired for sexual harassment – or if he was – he may have been falsely accused – and in this era – just the accusation – true or not – is enough to ruin a man’s career.
But why would any noble friend tell the story to others? It is unseemly; it is vicious; it is the mark of an inveterate gossip; it is counterproductive to good business – and in Toni’s case, it may be pathological. She might not be able to help herself.
She may not be able to not talk badly about everyone behind their backs – to everyone she knows.
So, knowing Toni’s propensities, I will continue to think highly of Chet. I have met Chet in person and spoken with him on the phone on numerous occasions. I have found him to be honorable, friendly and honest, with a good sense of humor.
I am sorry to be in his business – and but for his employer – Toni – I would not be.
I do not think he deserves vilification. If he was deceived by Toni [or is still being deceived], he is not the first.
I Once Believed Toni
I too believed Toni at one time – and thought that a woman such as her – so seemingly caring and seemingly eager to put forth the truth and be supportive – could not possibly be a liar. Frankly, I published some of her stories as true – because I trusted her as a source and because we had a common enemy: Keith Raniere.
I now know she told me many lies – about her role and relationship with Raniere – and have come to realize that, just because Raniere is evil, it does not mean that everyone who opposes him is good.
It is funny too. The first person to tell me that Toni is a liar – a pathological liar – was Kristin Keeffe. I did not want to believe her. Keeffe cited dozens of examples – this was long before Toni’s book was published.
And Angela Ucci is right – Barbara Bouchey also told me that Toni was a liar.
Ucci wrote, “I find it interesting that Barb was the first one to cut Toni off and tell you guys she was lying and meddling.”
Joe O’Hara also came to the same conclusion and cut her off. I tried to intervene and bring Toni and Joe back together.
But Joe was adamant. He caught Toni in many lies and was cutting her off.
Susan Dones and Heidi Hutchinson also found out – the hard way – when Toni told lies about them. And the lies Toni told about them – and Bouchey – I later found out were actually true of her.
Toni seems to do that – tell lies about other people – doing foul things – which she actually did herself. She shares this trait with Keith Raniere.
I won’t reveal some of the lies she told about Bouchey or Heidi because they are horrid – and were lies about Barb and Heidi but true of Toni herself and I fear that people will start to hate Toni – rather than feel sorry for her – for her mental illness – and her pathological lying.
Then there was Karen U.
Karen gave me the deep background on Toni – back in the day when both were around Keith through Consumer’s Buyline and the beginnings of Nxivm.
Toni’s stories just fell apart. With access to Kristin, Karen, Joe, Susan, Heidi, Barbara Bouchey and others, I could compare Toni’s stories with other, multiple witnesses [some of whom did not speak to each other] and I found that Toni’s stories were not only lies – but if one pondered a little deeply – or had some healthy skepticism – her lies don’t even make sense.
Her lies are often nonsensical and ridiculous. We have published some of these nonsensical lies already – lies that fall flat on their face – like the stupid, even crazy lie that Keith had the proctors of Nxivm announce to students that Toni broke Keith’s heart.
Chet Put His Name on It
So Chet put his name of this book which may be largely a work of fiction by Toni. He may, in time, be embarrassed by his trust in her.
But he is in a tough spot now. He makes money from the sale of the book – and if he really is out of a job – and is married – what’s he supposed to do?
If the book implodes, with his name on it, it might be harder for him to get other ghosting or co-writing jobs in the publishing field.
Ultimately, I think Chet will have to distance himself from her – for what else can he do – when so much of what is in the book is false – is deliberately dishonest – bald lies – lies told by Toni – not Chet?
He trusted his source. And made some money – maybe at a rough point in his life.
I am personally concerned about Chet and sincerely hope he does well in the future. Still, I doubt he has much of a future with Toni.
But that won’t stop me from setting the record straight on lies in the book. The Frank Report is here to set the record straight on Nxivm.
What Will Happen to Toni’s Book?
Toni’s book is likely to be a one-off. With it being discredited as it is, and with much more to come, it is doubtful it will get a second edition or be the subject of a movie or a play. It is doubtful that she will be asked to write another book, given that she deceived the publishers in her first book.
It was supposed to be a true account of a heroic woman – and it is becoming more and more apparent that it is a work of fiction – or perhaps more accurately “faction,” the hybrid of fiction and fact.
It should have been labeled as such.
Toni Is Free to Comment on Frank Report
As the coming days and weeks unfold, there will be more to write about Toni’s lies in her book and perhaps the lies in her life. She is fair game now, as Chaotic Soul said, because she chose to write a book – and lie in it.
Of course, Toni is welcome to comment and rebut the allegations that she lies.
I have invited Toni repeatedly to comment – but she does not seem to want to comment on this website – which I understand she has said is run by a “sick man with a dying website.”
Whether sick or not [and I rather think of myself as extremely well – physically and mentally] – I think I can demonstrate that Frank Report is not dead or dying.
In fact, readership is up from last year and has exceeded 5 million page views so far this year – and it is only mid-October.
Last year , total page views totaled 4.995 million.
Most readers are in the USA.
Why Did Toni Lie?
I am surprised that Toni dared to lie so openly and brazenly in her book. I mean on almost every page there is something. From little things like when she dropped out of high school – to important things like the cause of the death of her brother – this woman makes things up and I suspect she has been doing it for years – not just with Keith but with her whole life.
She must have thought she could get away with it in her book – since Raniere is not likely to challenge her. This has been the case for years. Raniere never responded to any of her stories – so she was free to make her stories more and more dramatic [and fictional].
Unfortunately for Toni – a book is different – a book published by a mainstream publisher is supposed to be vetted and hers was not. She is not just making comments to newspaper reporters. Now she is locked into a series of lies – in print – under her name that she will not be able to walk back.
The end of the line for Toni is, I suspect, disgrace.
It’s her own fault. She chose to make her book, a book of lies.
It may be pathological. It may have been done by her stupidly thinking no one would catch her. But, again, it’s not Chet’s fault.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Chet, in my opinion, was responsible for making sentences grammatically correct, making words flow and sound intelligent and making Toni – who cannot write and can barely read – and is not adept in the nuances of the English language – sound intelligent – when she is really only very cunning.
He might have tried harder to dissuade her from hurting some of the people she mentions in the book, people who were not part of Nxivm – but it is her story and if she chose to denigrate, for example, her ex-husbands, or any others who might have helped her along the way – that is her prerogative.
If it comes back to bite her – as it probably will – it should not bite Chet also.
So here is the issue:
There is more to tell about Toni and the lies – and possible crimes – that we have fodder for some time to come.
I wish that Chet is not held responsible. He is a fine writer, I think a good man and I think he needed the money. So he believed in Toni. He needed to believe.
I once felt the same way about Toni too.
Happily, I did not write a book with her.
I don’t know, if I had done so, if I would have vetted it.
I might have chosen to trust her and wound up embarrassed too.
Frank Report’s founder and lead writer Frank Parlato is one of the internet’s most acclaimed investigative journalists. His writing and investigations have helped expose major criminal organizations and scandals.
Frank’s work has been cited in major publications all over the world, including The New York Times, New York Post, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CNN, Rolling Stone, and more.
He is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Artvoice, The Niagara Falls Reporter, Front Page and the South Buffalo News.