'It's just amazing' CNN thinks I faked being Big Bear Lake Chris Dorner

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


Home » US Media Ethics News»

Jay Obernolte, Big Bear Lake's Mayor. (Credit: ROTWNews.com/Michael P. Neufeld, screenshot)

Mayor Jay Obernolte was interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last night about the search for former Los Angeles police office Chris Dorner.

But, after that interview, CNN’s live blog said that the network didn’t interview the mayor and deleted Obernolte’s comments, as iMediaEthics reported.  But then, earlier this afternoon, CNN told iMediaEthics that it did interview Obernolte after all, and that “The original correction was unnecessarily issued due to internal miscommunication.”

Whatever miscommunication CNN had internally created a problem, but the solution never apparently involved fact checking with the Mayor’s or City Clerk’s office to see if he was real or fake.

By this point, it’s safe to say we at iMediaEthics were slightly confused about what was going on.  CNN spoke to the mayor … they didn’t speak to the mayor … WAIT WAIT! They did speak to the mayor!

But we weren’t the only ones confused because CNN apparently didn’t keep the mayor, Obernolte, in the loop with what was going on with his interview.

“Until your phone call I had no idea that they had retracted it and that they retracted that,” Obernolte told iMediaEthics by phone today of his interview with CNN.  “It’s just amazing,” he said.

Obernolte interviewed last night with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer by phone.  According to The Situation Room transcript, published on CNN’s website, Obernolte told Blitzer about Chris Dorner’s status and location.  He said in part that

“Well, as we understand, he’s pinned down in an area about eight miles south of the city of Big Bear Lake. So we’re very happy that he no longer poses a threat to the residents here.

“But we have faith in the ability of the law enforcement community to deal with the situation. Certainly, we’re very happy that — that things are coming to a head, finally.”

iMediaEthics notes that nothing in the CNN transcript is a cause for alarm. Obernolte commented on the status of the search and law enforcement and said what he did and didn’t know about the situation. Obernolte and Blitzer even discussed how to pronounce Obernolte’s name.  Check out a screenshot below of a portion of the transcript.

Check out a portion of the transcript from Blitzer’s interview of Obernolte. (Credit: CNN, screenshot, highlight added)


Obernolte said by phone that we at iMediaEthics were “the only ones that had contacted us about this particular aspect of the story” of Chris Dorner. Likewise, Sarah from the City Clerk’s office told iMediaEthics CNN “did not notify us” about any questions CNN may have had about being hoaxed by a fake mayor.  They saw the allegation around 5 p.m. Pacific Time yesterday.

“Nobody spoke to us” from CNN, as far as she or others she asked knew. The clerk’s office is doing a final check for iMediaEthics.

Further, because of our phone call, Obernolte said it has “piqued my curiosity” and he’s “wondering what it is that…led them to believe that I wasn’t really the mayor.”

Of course, as we wrote earlier today, CNN said it was just an “internal miscommunication” that snared CNN.

iMediaEthics has written to CNN asking for confirmation that CNN didn’t contact Obernolte or the city clerk’s office before either retracting his comments or re-publishing the comments. We also asked for an explanation about what Obernolte may have said to suggest he wasn’t for real.  We’ll update with any response.


Submit a tip / Report a problem

‘It’s just amazing’ CNN thought I faked being mayor’ says Big Bear Lake Mayor about Chris Dorner coverage

Share this article:

Comments Terms and Conditions

  • We reserve the right to edit/delete comments which harass, libel, use coarse language and profanity.
  • We moderate comments especially when there is conflict or negativity among commenters.
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *