Friday, September 14, 2007

Yet another reporter making cr*p up

Actually he was already caught once and now he has been caught again:

A former ABC News consultant fired last year because he couldn't authenticate academic credentials is at the center of a new dispute over apparently faked interviews with Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Bill Gates and others.


Politique Internationale editor and political scientist Patrick Wajsman founded the magazine nearly 30 years ago. He called Debat "a grand liar" and said he had hired a lawyer to pursue "all possible measures" against him.

"We are the first victims. I am falling from the moon," he told The AP. "We were betrayed."

He noted that Debat worked for the journal for four years, starting after he was already working for ABC and the Nixon Center. "How could we possibly doubt someone who worked for ABC, who worked for the Nixon Center? How could we possibly doubt someone from several thousand kilometers away?" he asked.

source: AP

Maybe it's just me but I am thinking that if I had a reporter working for me who was just fired for making stuff up I might "possibly doubt" them.

The New York Times has more:

ABC News said yesterday that it would begin a second investigation into more than five years of news reports that relied on information from a consultant, Alexis Debat, who has been revealed to be the author of faked interviews.


ABC fired Mr. Debat in June after discovering that his claims of having earned a doctorate from the Sorbonne were false. The network then investigated the reports Mr. Debat had participated in and found “they absolutely checked out,” Mr. Ross said.

I wonder if they mean the same way the Scott Thomas Beauchamp reports checked out for "The New Republic"

But wait there's more:

Since his departure from ABC News in June, Mr. Debat has continued to work as a senior fellow for national security and terrorism at the Nixon Center in Washington. He was quoted as a knowledgeable source in an article in The Times of London this month, saying that American military forces were planning attacks that would demolish “the entire Iranian military.” He has also been quoted by many newspapers and news services.

So a major portion of the case that the Bush administration is getting ready to attack Iran is a known liar? Great!

I don't know what drives these people to do this stuff. Is it a desire for attention? I have trouble believing it is part of some Meta-Narrative but it does always seem to workout that way. Is that because the reporters who engage in this behavior are true believers or because they know that by playing into the editors biases they are more likeley to get published. Either way it's disturbing.

UpdateI should have done this first but I just checked Debat's wikipedia entry and this just gets better and better. Look at the credentials he has claimed for himself and look at the stories he has been involved in either as a source or as a reporter. It's like this guy is a one man disinformation agency.

More from Mother Jones

Interviews with journalists, think tank associates, and a former government official indicate that there were warning signs about Debat for years—even within the network itself. Two journalists familiar with Debat's work point to ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross not only as the victim of Debat's alleged deceptions, but as an enabler, who has promoted sensational stories—including some that Debat brought the network—at the expense at times of rigorous journalism standards. (Ross did not return Mother Jones' phone call by press time, although an ABC executive has been in touch by phone and email.) They also say that they do not believe ABC has properly investigated Debat's reporting at all.

The two key questions to ask ABC, one source familiar with Ross' unit who asked to speak on background, are: "How is ABC investigating the information: Is it only being investigated by the Ross unit, or are outside reporters doing it? And in vetting or second-sourcing information brought to the network [by Debat], were resources outside of the Ross unit used?" Sources, and the AP reported late Thursday that ABC was sending long time Ross producer Rhonda Schwartz to Pakistan to investigate some of Debat's stories.

Overall, the picture of Debat that emerges from these interviews is of a smart, ambitious and cunning operator who would claim to be getting text messages from Middle Eastern intelligence operatives while at meetings with Ross and others at ABC, with tips that seemed too good to be true (which some colleagues believe were bogus), yet were used as "exclusives."

Sources provided multiple examples of stories that Ross—often with Debat's contributions—reported, only to be forced to run a correction the next day. For instance, one source noted, on September 5 last year, Ross reported that a Pakistani general had said that Pakistan would leave Osama bin Laden alone as long as he didn't cause any trouble. The Pakistani government angrily denied it, and the next day the ABC investigative unit's blog, the Blotter ran a correction.

Another ABC news story largely sourced to Debat – claiming that the U.S. government was advising and encouraging an Iranian Baluchi separatist group Jundullah which was carrying out attacks against the Iranian regime – was followed by an ABC report the next day carrying a "sharply-worded" denunciation from the Pakistani government.

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