\News site The Intercept fired reporter Juan Thompson after discovering he faked quotes for his stories.
Not only that, Thompson tried to cover his tracks by creating fake e-mail accounts, The Intercept said.
The Intercept retracted one article and corrected four other articles, two from May and two from December 2015. The story that The Intercept retracted was from June 18, 2015 about Dylann Roof, who is accused in the mass shootings at Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church.The story claimed Roof’s cousin, only given the name Scott in Thompson’s story, said Roof “kind of went over the edge when a girl he liked started dating a black guy.” But, Roof’s family says there is no cousin by the name of Scott.
“Thompson fabricated several quotes in his stories and created fake email accounts that he used to impersonate people, one of which was a Gmail account in my name,” The Intercept’s editor-in-chief Betsy Reed wrote in an editor’s note. The Intercept reviewed Thompson’s reporting and found:
- “three instances in which quotes were attributed to people who said they had not been interviewed.”
- “quotes were attributed to individuals we could not reach, who could not remember speaking with him, or whose identities could not be confirmed.”
- “quotes that we cannot verify from unnamed people whom he claimed to have encountered at public events”
The Intercept apologized for the fabrication. It even said it’s taking an extra step by contacting news outlets that reported on stories in question and letting them know about any corrections or retractions for fakery.
Oddly, Thompson fessed up to faking e-mail accounts but not quotes. “Thompson admitted to creating fake email accounts and fabricating messages, but stood by his published work,” Reed wrote. “He did not cooperate in the review.”
iMediaEthics has reached out to Thompson via Twitter for comment.
Thompson told CNN’s Tom Kludt that he didn’t fake quotes but was “sloppy” because he didn’t put in the correct names for quotes. “If I couldn’t obtain a quote from the person I wanted, I went somewhere else, and must’ve forgot to change the names — clearly,” Thompson told CNN. “Also, Yes, I encouraged some of my interviewees to use another name; they’re poor black people who didn’t want their name in the public given the situations and that was the only was (sic) of convincing them otherwise.”
— Tom Kludt (@TomKludt) February 2, 2016
Thompson worked for The Intercept from November 2014 to January 2016, the editor’s note reads, noting he “wrote mostly short articles on news events and criminal justice.”
iMediaEthics asked The Intercept how it learned about the problems in his work and will update with any response.
“Many of these articles relied on publicly available sources and are accurate; others contain original reporting that held up under scrutiny,” Reed wrote.
The Intercept “launched in 2014 by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, is dedicated to producing fearless, adversarial journalism,” its website states. “We believe journalism should bring transparency and accountability to powerful governmental and corporate institutions, and our journalists have the editorial freedom and legal support to pursue this mission.”
Hat Tip: Mediaite
UPDATED: 2/2/2016 4:40 PM EST Updated with Thompson’s comments to CNN.