Thursday, September 13, 2007

Just Wondering

So does any of this have to do with the problem of hiring people from political campaigns, think tanks, etc., and calling the journalists? Maybe not but it bothers me that the networks continue to be so cavalier with who they put on the air and report stories. Ah, I see Lauren Rozen touches on the same subject. See below.

Consultant Probed in Bogus Interview
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 13, 2007; Page C07

A former consultant to ABC's investigative unit admitted yesterday that he put his name on a purported interview with Barack Obama that he never conducted.

Alexis Debat, a former French defense official who now works at the Nixon Center, published the interview in the French magazine Politique Internationale. He said he had hired a freelance journalist to conduct the interview, in which the Democratic presidential candidate supposedly said that Iraq was "already a defeat for America" that has "wasted thousands of lives." Debat said he had been unable to locate the intermediary, and the Obama campaign says no such interview took place.

"I was scammed," Debat said. "I was very, very stupid. I made a huge mistake in signing that article and not checking his credentials."

ABC demanded Debat's resignation in June after discovering that he did not have a PhD from the Sorbonne, as he claims on his r?sum?.

"I was angry with him because it called into question, of course, everything he had done," said Brian Ross, ABC's chief investigative reporter, who worked closely with Debat. "He could never satisfy us that he had the PhD. . . . I was very upset."

ABC News checked out the stories Debat had worked on -- either as an on-air commentator, researcher or source -- and found no inaccuracies, network spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said. But in light of the Obama debacle, reported yesterday by, a second review is underway. Debat had specialized in reports on terrorism and national security for the past six years.

From Will Bunch:
UPDATED (again): The disgraced ABC consultant and the push for war in Iran
See updates at bottom.

There's a huge new media scandal breaking this morning, and the headline so far -- that a much-used consultant to ABC News published a phony interview with Barak Obama -- may well be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The news about now ex-ABC consultant Alexis Debat (left) is just dribbling out, but I'm surprised people haven't been connecting the dots. This post will seek to connect a couple of them.

Simply put, Debat -- a former French defense official who now works at the (no, you can't make these things up) Nixon Center -- has also been a leading source in pounding the drumbeat for war in Iran, and directly linked to some bizarre stories -- reported on ABC's widely watched news shows, and nowhere else -- that either ratcheted up fears of terrorism or that could have stoked new tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Ironically, while Debat's alleged specialty is foreign affairs, it was a foray into American presidential politics that brought this budding scandal out into the open.

And from Lauren Rozen

ABC News investigates. More in the updates here too, including a new allegation of a faked interview with Alan Greenspan (scroll down to Update 12/9). My own feeling as primarily a print world reporter, and this is just one part of the complicated matter, is that it is deeply problematic for a news organization to have a paid source/consultant to sometimes put on the reporter hat and act as the reporter too.

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