In December, ESPN unpublished quotes attributed to University of Oregon men’s basketball coach Dana Altman after it turned out the quotes were fake. We wrote about the unpublishing and the fake quotes in early January.
We heard back from the University of Oregon’s assistant director of media service Chris Geraghty about the hacking and the fake quotes last week. Geraghty told iMediaEthics by phone that he noticed the fake quotes on the website within “an hour, hour and a half max” of their Dec. 18 publication and immediately deactivated the post. The next day, he deleted the post. In all, Geraghty estimated the quotes were circulating as real for about 12-15 hours.
After discovering the fake quotes had been published, Geraghty said he contacted the Virginia media outlets and the Virginia team.
According to Geraghty, before he deleted the post completely, whoever had access to the site’s log on to alter the page continued to edit and upload fake quotes on the Oregon site. Through a page preview, that person or persons took screenshots of the fake pages and they were circulated on Twitter, according to Geraghty.
“The person was making adjustments to the quotes, albeit silly stuff. It was still inappropriate to have anyone attributing stuff to our head coach that he didn’t say,” Geraghty told iMediaEthics by phone.
The quotes were picked up by ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan, as we wrote, who later took the quotes down and published a note to readers about the quotes being phony. Geraghty explained that Brennan posted both the video from the press conference and the fake quotes. Watching the video would have indicated that Altman never said the quotes attributed to him, Geraghty noted. Geraghty added that Brennan acted in “a very timely fashion.” We wrote to Brennan to confirm that his original post contained both the video and fake quotes and will update with any response.
Geraghty said some Virginia media outlets that didn’t travel to the game picked up the quotes as well.
“It was such a bizarre situation because who has time to do this?” Geraghty said. “It was generally pretty silly stuff that they wrote, fortunately.”
The Washington Post published a Dec. 19 list of some of the fake quotes here.