Longtime Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema hosts a weekly live chat, where readers can submit their thoughts on his recent reviews, ask for recommendations, or make minor complaints about the service at what seems like every restaurant in the greater Washington, D.C. area.
His last "Ask Tom" session in November was, for the most part, pretty standard. Someone asked where they could take their boyfriend for "really good risotto." Someone else wanted to know how to respond when they heard other customers bitching loudly about their meal. And several other people got upset with Sietsema for suggesting that a popular farm-to-fork restaurant hadn't changed its menu "in years now."
So yeah, pretty standard—except for the commenter who said that one of his previous features had outed her husband's affair. "Thanks Tom," she wrote. "Your latest review is accompanied by a picture of my husband dining with a woman who isn't me. Once confronted, he confessed to having an ongoing affair. Just thought you'd be amused to hear of your part in the drama."
Sietsema seemed more shook than amused, writing that he hoped that the woman's comment was "a crank post." Regardless, the woman's post went either the best or the worst kind of viral, and armchair detectives started searching through Sietsema's reviews to see if they could ID her trash husband in one of the accompanying photographs.
As it turns out, it was none of those men, because the entire story was bullshit. In a follow-up piece, the Washington Post reported that the woman sent an email to Sietsema and admitted that she'd just submitted the comment as a joke. She didn't expect it to be posted in his weekly chat, she said, let alone make its way around the entire internet. (The Post said that in order to verify her identity, they asked her to comment on another of Sietsema's chats. That IP address matched the IP address from the original "cheater" post.)
The woman, who was described only as a D.C. attorney in her 40s, said that she thinks she submitted her fake-ass comment after getting home from happy hour. But she also said that she'd been cheated on in previous relationships, and she'd swiped past "a lot of married men" on the dating apps she's used. "Those men ask you out to public places,” she said. “And I'm like, ‘What are you thinking?’"
Well, going forward, they're probably thinking "I hope Tom Sietsema isn't in this restaurant right now." And honestly, you couldn't blame Sietsema for thinking the same thing.