Newest Faux News Scandal : Another Journalist Fakes Interviews
By: Warner Todd Huston
Looks like fauxtography isn’t the only thing that the newswires and other media outlets get taken in by these days. Here we have the AP, ABC and other news agencies getting fooled by Alexis Debat, a “news consultant” who has not only faked interviewing various people in the news but has also faked his own education and background. And he’s been doing it for years with his writing serving as the main source for some of the AP’s and ABC’s stories. He even somehow got a job with the Nixon Center, a political think tank in D.C. which is a foreign policy advisory organization with a leaning toward the “realpolitik” or pragmatist view of foreign relations.
The AP reports on how they and ABC as well as a French political journal called Politique Internationale were taken in by the fanciful work of Debat.
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.
The consultant, Alexis Debat, quit the Nixon Center, a Washington think tank, on Wednesday after Obama’s representatives claimed an interview with the senator appearing under Debat’s byline in the French magazine Politique Internationale never took place. The interview quoted the Democratic presidential candidate as saying the Iraq war was “a defeat for America.”
How embarrassing for them all!
Debat has apparently faked interviews with a lot people in the news.
Pelosi, Gates, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg all said they never gave interviews that appeared in the magazine under Debat’s byline, ABC News’ Web site, the Blotter, reported on Thursday.
According to the report, people knew this “news consultant” was lying all the way back in 2005 when a UN official discovered that a Debat interview with Kofi Annan was faked and a later one was really an Annan speech given at Princeton University reworked as if it were an interview with the UN chief.
It is bad enough, though, that this guy fooled his employers about fake interviews, but even worse is the fact that this Debat guy was used as an important source to buttress other journalist’s reports on current events.
Debat has been extensively quoted by other media, including the AP, which included his remarks in three stories.
He was identified as a terrorism consultant in a 2004 story about CIA Director George Tenet’s resignation and quoted as saying Tenet had a reputation as a yes-man for President Bush.
And he was quoted twice in 2001, identified as a former French Defense Ministry analyst. In one story, he said the United States and France has increased their intelligence-sharing. He was the main source for the second story, in which he said police had found a notebook with codes that could help decipher messages within Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.
So, what the heck is going on with editors these days? It seems they are all out to lunch while liars like Jason Blair, Jack Kelly, Michael Finkel, and Stephen Glass — the list goes on and on — just make things up out of their rear ends and publish their lies with little notice from those who are supposed to be the media’s fact-checkers.
Just remember, though, the “official” media and journalists who are “trained” to be real journalists are far more trustworthy than we slobbering bloggers!
Now, if you believe that, I want to talk to you about the sale of a bridge in Brooklyn I just happen to own.
Just as I was about to put the finishing touches on this piece, another spate of plagiarism on the left came to light.
The Huffington Post has had to pull a piece from one of their contributors. Turns out it was nearly a word for word theft of an article by The New Republic’s James Kirchick.
Several months ago, I published an essay in Azure, the quarterly journal of Israel’s Shalem Center, about South Africa’s troubling foreign policies. You can read it here.
On Monday, a South African blogger with whom I regularly correspond informed me that an article published September 6 on The Huffington Post read almost exactly like my piece, only shorter. You can read that article, by a Norwegian journalist and former United Nations employee named Henning AndrÃ¨ SÃ¸gaard, here. While my original essay was more than four thousand words and SÃ¸gaard’s was op-ed length, nearly every sentence in “his” article was directly lifted from mine. Noah Pollak, an editor of Azure, shows just two of many examples. If for whatever reason you remain unconvinced, read the concluding paragraphs of both pieces.
I informed the Huffington Post of this news on Monday, but it was not until Wednesday afternoon (after Pollak disclosed the incident on The Corner) that the piece was removed from their website. In it’s place reads a fatuous message:
Editor’s note: We have chosen to take down Henning AndrÃ¨ SÃ¸gaard’s piece because of editorial similarities to a previously published work. We are awaiting a response from Mr. SÃ¸gaard who wishes to defend the piece.
“Editorial similarities” is a wonderfully creative euphemism for “plagiarism,” almost as vacuous a literary construction as “Fake but accurate.” There is no worse offense in the journalistic profession than stealing someone else’s work and those who do should be named, shamed, and driven out of the profession altogether, never to write again. Either way, it’s long past time that the Huffington Post, at the very least, publicly admit that Mr. SÃ¸gaard is a journalistic thief.
Lefty on lefty crime. Boy itâ€™s just all so disheartening!
The HuffPost’s revenge has now been exacted, as the offending piece was pulled.
The HuffPost has seen the light as their site now reads:
Editor’s note: We have chosen to remove Henning AndrÃ© SÃ¸gaard’s piece because it contained numerous passages copied without attribution from an article written by James Kirchick that was published in Azure. Mr. SÃ¸gaard, who initially indicated a desire to defend the piece, has since failed to do so. He will no longer be allowed to blog on this site
Vindication for Mr. Kirchick! And snuggles and hearty handshakes from all on the left.
But, proof that all too quickly, the MSM is losing what little respectability it once had.