CNBC Corrects, Apologizes for Fake 2011 Story about NBA Lockout & Escorts

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Apologies & Retractions»

A teenager reportedly sent a made-up story in response to this tweet from CNBC's Rovell.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell apologized this week for including fake information in a November story “Small Business Owners Getting Squeezed by NBA Lockout,” Poynter’s Craig Silverman and Deadspin reported.

The CNBC article now carries a correction that reads: “Correction: Fabricated material originally included in this story has been removed” and links to his June 6 apology that admits “I was duped by a ‘source.'”   Rovell detailed to readers how a teenager “duped me,” apologized, and linked to the Deadspin report.

For Rovell’s story, Rovell had tweeted November 17 asking for readers “losing a paycheck/business because of the NBA” to contact him. A teenager Deadspin identified as Tim set up an e-mail account under the name Henry James and told Rovell via e-mail that the lockout was causing a “30 percent” drop in his New York-based “escort service.”  Rovell cited the teenager’s prank e-mail interviews and identified him as “Henry.”

Deadspin, which broke down the hoax explaining that the interviewee in question contacted Deadspin about the hoax with a copy of his e-mail exchanges with Rovell, noted that several media outlets re-reported the CNBC tale, including Business Insider, NBC Sports, Yahoo Sports, and others. None posted corrections on top of their stories as of this story’s publication.

Sports Grid reported on the story as fact at the time and has no correction on its story, while its “sister site” Mediaite reported on the story being exposed as fake.  Sports Grid did publish a separate post owning up to being hoaxed, but it’s not on the original story which is still live.

Poynter’s Silverman highlighted that Rovell’s case provides a “Cautionary lesson: Rovell only spoke to the source by email and never made any other attempts to confirm his story.”

We have written to Business Insider, Yahoo Sports, MSNBC for NBC Sports, and Sports Grid asking if they will correct and for comment and will update with any responses.

We have also written to CNBC asking the meaning of Rovell’s line in his apology –“As a result I will do fewer stories on the real life impact of big events which I do think the public enjoys” — and will update with any response.

Submit a tip / Report a problem

CNBC Corrects, Apologizes for Fake 2011 Story about NBA Lockout & Escorts

Share this article: