- United States journalism scandals
United States journalism scandalslists journalistic incidents in the United Stateswhich have been widely reported as journalistic scandals, or which were alleged to be scandalous by journalistic standards of the day.
Notable reports of United States journalism scandals
Coverage of China, CNN (2008)
April 24, 2008beautician Liang Shubing and teacher Li Lilan sued commentator Jack Caffertyand CNN$1.3 billion damages ($1 per person in China), in New York, for "violating the dignity and reputation of the Chinese people". This was in response to an incident during CNN's "The Situation Room" on April 9, where Cafferty stated his opinion that " [the USA] continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food" despite his view that " [the Chinese leaders were] basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years". Further, amid China's Foreign Ministry demand for an apology, 14 lawyers filed a similar suit in Beijing. [ [http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/20080424/cnn-time-warner-lawsuit-china-media.htm www.ibtimes.com, CNN Faces $1.3 Bln Lawsuit - $1 per person in China] ] [ [http://www.reuters.com/article/televisionNews/idUSPEK30866720080424 reuters.com, CNN now sued for $1.3 billion - $1 per person in China] ]
Jeffrey T. Kuhner, "Insight" false "Islamic seminary" report (2007)
On January 17, 2007 the online news magazine "Insight" published an anonymously written and unsourced article which alleged that members of Senator
Hillary Clinton's presidental campaign staff had leaked information that rival candidate Senator Barack Obamahad attended an Islamic seminaryduring his childhood in Indonesia. [ [http://www.insightmag.com/Media/MediaManager/Obama_1.htm Hillary's team has questions about Obama's Muslim background] "Insight" January 11, 2007.] . CNN sent a reporter to Indonesia who visited Obama's elementary school, State Elementary School Menteng 01, and found that it was a public school with students of all faiths, not an Islamic seminary as "Insight" had reported. [ [http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/01/22/obama.madrassa/ CNN debunks false report about Obama] ] In 2008 "Insight" ceased publication. [ [http://www.insight-report.com/corepages/announcement.html Important Announcement for our Readers] Insight May 1, 2008]
Hassan Fattah, "New York Times"' Abu Ghraib photos (2006)
In March 2006, the "
New York Times" ran a front-page interview by reporter Hassan M. Fattah with Ali Shalal Qaissi, who claimed he was the man hooded and hooked up to wires in the now infamous Abu Ghraibprison picture. The Internet magazine Salon quickly questioned the man's claim, as did the U.S. military, and the "Times" soon discovered that the man was not really the person in the picture. Furthermore, the "Times" had run the actual man's name in its own pages several years earlier. The "Times" admitted in the correction that it did not do enough to establish the man's identity. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/11/international/middleeast/11ghraib.html&OQ=_rQ3D2Q26orefQ3Dlogin&OP=5165432aQ2FQ2BhUQ23Q2BTQ24K92Q24Q24-mQ2BmQ7EQ7EBQ2BQ7EQ3FQ2B((Q2BcQ7C-U2Q7C1-cQ24Q7C1eQ2BQ5DcTTeUU19-Q2B((dQ5121cQ23zQ51-Q5De The original article] , Salon.com: [http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/03/14/torture_photo/index1.html "Identifying a torture icon"] , The New York Times[http://www.nytimes.com/glogin?URI=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/18/pageoneplus/corrections.html&OQ=_rQ3D1&OP=56010ef1Q2FVQ5DQ513V60_iB00k7V7xxQ3BVxvVQ2B)VQ3CQ5EMQ510dQ51Q3CQ2FQ3AiV_0BBQ51_kE0diQ25eklQ2F runs a correction (subscription required)] ]
Radio Marti, "El Nuevo Herald" (2006)
September 8, 2006, the publisher of the " Miami Herald" Jesús Díaz Jr., fired three journalists from its Spanish language newspaper, " El Nuevo Herald", because they freelanced for Radio/TV Marti, a U.S. Government News Agency. The three were Pablo Alfonso, Wilfredo Cancio Islaand Olga Connor. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5329394.stm|title=US 'paid journalists'|publisher= BBC News|date=2006-09-09|accessdate=2006-09-09] . Less than a month later, Diaz was instructed by his superiors at The McClatchy Company, the parent company of "The Miami Herald" and "El Nuevo Herald", to re-hire the three journalist in question because they had prior approval to freelance for Radio/TV Marti from their supervisor at the time, "El Nuevo Herald" executive editor Carlos Castaneda. Díaz resigned after reinstating the fired journalists." [ "Fla. Journalists Paid to Hasten Castro's Ouster", by Doualy Xaykaothao (NPR). "All Things Considered", 8 September, 2006. [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5952850] ]
Adnan Hajj, Reuters (2006)
Reuterspulled 920 photographs of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflictfrom freelancephotographer Adnan Hajj in August 2006 after it was exposed that several high-profile photographs had been altered heavily in Adobe Photoshop; see Adnan Hajj photographs controversy. The manipulations exaggerated the damage done by Israeli bombing. [cite news|date= August 6, 2006| url=http://editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002950988&imw=Y| title=Smoke and Mirrors: Reuters Dismisses Photog Over Doctored Beirut Picture| publisher= Editor and Publisher|accessdate=2006-08-07] - Reuters "killed" the 'photograph' and admitted that the photographer had altered it, saying "photo editing software was improperly used on this image. A corrected version will immediately follow this advisory. We are sorry for any inconvenience."cite web|date= August 6, 2006|url=http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3286966,00.html|title="Reuters admits altering Beirut photo"|publisher= Ynetnews|accessdate=2006-08-07] Head of PR Moira Whittle said: "Reuters takes such matters extremely seriously as it is strictly against company editorial policy to alter pictures." - [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5254838.stm Reuters drops Beirut photographer] ]
Jack Hitt and "New York Times" Abortion/Infanticide Article (2006)
On April 9, 2006, the "New York Times" printed an article by
Jack Hitt[ [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/09/magazine/09abortion.html?ex=1302235200&en=d855d80018cd6c56&ei=5088&partner=rssuserland "Pro-Life Nation"] , "New York Times Magazine", 9 April 2006] claiming Carmen Climaco was jailed in El Salvadorfor having an abortion. On December 31, 2006, the New York Times published a correction by its ombudsmen where they explained that Ms Climaco had been convicted of murdering her child after birth. The author relied on an unpaid translator who had worked with an abortion rights group. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/31/opinion/31pubed.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5090&en=9b2c0bc678a93e96&ex=1325221200 "Truth, Justice, Abortion and the Times Magazine"] , "New York Times"]
CNN sniper video controversy (2006)
On October 18, 2006, CNN aired a small portion of a videotape sent to them which showed snipers shooting at and apparently killing American troops. [ [http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/anderson.cooper.360/blog/2006/10/why-we-aired-sniper-video.html CNN.com - Anderson Cooper 360° Blog ] ] After the news report was shown, Press Secretary
Tony Snowaccused CNN of "propagandizing" the American public. [cite web | title= Video Shows Snipers' Chilling Work in Iraq | url=http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/10/19/iraq.sniper.video/index.html | accessdate=October 20 | accessyear=2006 ] . Representative Duncan Hunter, then-chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, asked Donald Rumsfeldto remove CNN embedded reporters following the airing of the news report,claiming that "C-N-N has now served as the publicist for an enemy propaganda film featuring the killing of an American soldier." [cite web | title=House Defense Chair Asks Pentagon to Remove Embedded CNN Reporters | url=http://www.kesq.com/Global/story.asp?S=5569487 | accessdate=October 21 | accessyear=2006 ]
Thom Calandra, Marketwatch.com (2005)
Securities and Exchange Commissionaccused Thom Calandra, founding editor of Marketwatch.com, of profiting from trades of stocks mentioned in his investment newsletter. The SEC said that from March to December 2003, Calandra made over $400,000 through buying shares of 23 different small-cap stocks while writing favorable newsletter profiles recommending the stocks, and then selling the shares after the stocks rose after his columns were published. Calandra settled the charges in 2005, without admitting or denying the allegations, by paying $540,000 in civil penalties. [ [http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr19028.htm SEC vs. Thom Calandra, Litigation Release No. 19028] ]
Eason Jordan, CNN (2005)
CNNnews chief Eason Jordanresigned in February 2005 following a controversy over comments he made January 27 at the World Economic Forumannual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, accusing U.S. troops of targeting journalists. His comments were reported by blogger Rony Abovitz, who attended the forum, as well as U.S. Democratic Senator Christopher Doddand Congressman Barney Frank, who publicly requested Jordan to offer proof of the accusations. A videotape of the private conference was never released, and CNN never asked for one. However, Jordan had made similar accusations in 2004 at a "News XChange" conference in Portugal.
Jordan's resignation further established
bloggers, whose pressure helped force "New York Times" editor Howell Rainesto resign and CBS Evening Newsanchor Dan Ratherto step down. Unlike the Jayson Blairand Memogatescandals, which the mainstream press relentlessly covered, the Jordanaffair was widely ignored by the mainstream media until Jordan's resignation forced them to report it. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17462-2005Feb11.html CNN's Jordan resigns over Iraq remarks] , by Howard Kurtz] [ "Washington Post", [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17462-2005Feb11.html CNN's Jordan resigns over Iraq remarks] , by media writer Howard Kurtz]
Bush administration payment of columnists (2005)
The Bush White House paid public funds to
right-wingmedia commentators by several U.S. executive departments under Cabinetofficials to promote various policies of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration. Thousands of dollars were paid to at least three commentators to promote Bush administration policies. This included Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Michael McManus. [Gallagher, Maggie. "A question of disclosure." January 26, 2005. [http://www.townhall.com/columnists/maggiegallagher/mg20050126.shtml] , Kurtz, Howard. "Writer backing Bush plan had gotten federal contract." "The Washington Post". January 26, 2005. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36545-2005Jan25.html] , Toppo, Greg. "Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law." "USA Today". January 7, 2005. [http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-01-06-williams-whitehouse_x.htm] , Williams, Armstrong. "My apology." January 10, 2005. [http://www.townhall.com/columnists/Armstrongwilliams/aw20050110.shtml] ]
Jeff Gannon, "Talon News" (2005)
James Dale Guckert worked under the
pseudonym Jeff Gannonas a White House reporter between 2003 and 2005 , representing the virtual news organization Talon Newsoperated by GOPUSA owner Robert Eberle. Guckert first gained national attention during a presidential press conference on January 26, 2005, in which he asked United States President George W. Busha question that some in the press corps claimed was "so friendly it might have been planted". Gannon then came under public scrutiny, in particular for his alleged lack of a significant journalistic background prior to his work with Talon. He resigned from Talon News on February 8, 2005. Gannon published a book in 2007, entitled "The Great Media War," in which he attacks his critics, and comments on various media personalities. [ [http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/02/02/white_house_friendly_reporter_under_scrutiny?] , [http://www.thegreatmediawar.com/ The Great Media War] [http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/02/09/white.house.reporter/ White House Reporter's Credentials Questioned] ]
Jack Kelley, "USA Today" (2004)
In early 2004, an anonymous letter to editors of "
USA Today" triggered an internal investigation into the conduct of one of its star reporters, Jack Kelley. Kelley resigned after "USA Today" found letters from Kelley to his friends on Kelley's office computer, asking them to pretend to be sources when editors verifying his stories called them. An internal investigation later found that Kelley had been fabricating stories or parts of stories since at least 1991, and that outside sources had been warning "USA Today" reporters about Kelley's conduct. Furthermore, investigators found a "climate of fear" in the news section that discouraged co-workers, many of whom were suspicious of Kelley's work, to come forward. The investigation concluded that editorial favoritism played a significant role, given that Kelley had 'star' status at the paper. Previous attempts to examine discrepancies failed, according to the investigation, because editors set out with the goal of exonerating Kelly. "USA Today's" top two editors resigned as a result of the Kelley scandal. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/2004-04-22-report-one_x.htm The problems of Jack Kelley and USA TODAY] (" USA Today" - 4/22/2004)]
"The Oregonian"'s coverage of the Goldschmidt scandal (2004)
The integrity of "
The Oregonian" took a blow after it was revealed that the paper failed to act on evidence that former Democratic governor Neil Goldschmidtcommitted statutory rape. " Willamette Week", a Portland alternative newspaper, ran a story that alleged that Goldschmidt engaged in sex acts with his 14-year-old babysitter. As with the Bob Packwoodscandal in 1992, "The Oregonian" had information which it failed to seriously investigate. "The Oregonian" was further criticized for its follow-up coverage, which called Goldschmidt's statutory rape an "affair." "Willamette Week" writer Nigel Jaquisswon the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage. [ American Journalism Review: [http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=3706 "The Story Behind the Story"] ]
The "Boston Globe"'s Fake "GI Rape" Photographs (2004)
In May 2004, the "
Boston Globe" published photographs it alleged were of United Statessoldiers abusing and raping women in Iraq. Shortly thereafter, these photographs were stated to be commercially-produced pornography that were originally published on a web site named "Sex in War". Other news sources had exposed the photographs as fake a week before the Bostonnewspaper published them. [http://www.greaterboston.tv/features/btp_20040514_turner.html]
The "ABC News" election memo (2004)
A leaked memo dated October 8 from "
ABC News" Political Director Mark Halperinto news staff told them to hold President George W. Bushto a higher level of scrutiny than Democratic challenger John Kerrysince Bush's attacks on Kerry "involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done." [ [http://mensnewsdaily.com/archive/newswire/news2004/1004/100904-halperin.htm Link] ]
Carl Cameron, Fox News Channel (2004)
October 1, 2004, Fox News Channelpolitical correspondent Carl Cameronposted a news article on the network's website which apparently contained fabricated quotes attributed to Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate during the 2004 presidential campaign. The article -- titled "Trail Tales" -- falsely quoted Kerry as claiming to do manicuresand being a metrosexual. Cameron also delivered a report on the September 30, 2004edition of Fox News' " Special Report with Brit Hume" covering the presidential debates, falsely claiming that Kerry received a "pre-debate manicure." Fox News later retracted the story, saying, "This was a stupid mistake and a lapse in judgment, and Carl regrets it.... It was a poor attempt at humor." Critics claimed that Cameron's article was a definitive example of Fox News' alleged conservative bias. Fox News assured critics that Cameron was reprimanded, and the article was taken down from the channel's website. [ [http://www.masstort.org/fox/FOXNews_com%20-%20You%20Decide%202004%20-%20Trail%20Tales%20-%20BTrail%20Tales-B%20What's%20That%20Face.html|"Trail Tales," the fake news article on FoxNews.com] , [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,134166,00.html#|Fox News' retraction of the story] , [http://mediamatters.org/items/200410040006|Media Matters article on the fake story] ]
CBS News and the "Killian Documents" (2004)
2004 US presidential campaign, CBSproduced a report using what may have been forged documents during a September 8, 2004, " 60 Minutes Wednesday" report on George W. Bush's Vietnam-era service record. The documents were never authenticated nor could a chain of custody be established for them. [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/complete_report/CBS_Report.pdf Thornburgh-Boccardi Report] ]
Mary Mapeswas accused of liberal biasfor working on the story for five years and putting Bill Burkett, the source of the memos, in contact with Democratic challenger John Kerry's campaign. The panel investigation into what was called " Memogate" and " Rathergate" accused Mapes of gross negligence for "crashing" the story six days after she received the copies of the memos and doing "virtually nothing" to establish a chain of custody. No original documents have been produced.
The aftermath of the independent investigation's report released on
January 10, 2005led to the firing of Mapes. She later wrote a book arguing that the memos were real. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=ZvoHkCzkrZ4C&dq=truth+and+duty&pg=PP1&ots=pF--esjvfd&sig=7NIJ2uhZvVBgpWkxOajAY7voT88&prev=http://www.google.com/search%3Fhl%3Den%26q%3DTruth%2Band%2BDuty%26btnG%3DGoogle%2BSearch&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail Truth and Duty] ] Yet paradoxically Mapes also advanced a conspiracy theory that White House advisor Karl Rovehad planted the memos in order to deflect attention from Bush's service record during the Vietnam War. Three others, Josh Howard, executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday"; his top deputy Mary Murphy; and senior vice president Betsy West, were asked to resign.
Rather stepped down as anchor of the "
CBS Evening News" on March 9, 2005, with about two years left on his contract. Although denied by Rather and CBS, many critics believe that his early retirement was a direct result of the scandal. Rather has since told reporters that "even if the documents are fakes", he stands by the story. On September 19, 2007, Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS. Rather accused the network of making him a " scapegoat" in the Killian story. A CBS spokesman claimed that the lawsuit was "old news" and "without merit". [cite web | title= Rather sues CBS for $70 million, saying he was made a scapegoat | url=http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/09/20/rather_sues_cbs_for_70_million_saying_he_was_made_a_scapegoat/ | accessdate=2007-10-12 ]
Brian Walski, "The Los Angeles Times" (2003)
The Los Angeles Times" fired photographer Brian Walski for digitally combining two photos taken during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Walski claimed he was just trying create a more compelling picture, but digital photo manipulation is believed to undermine the public's confidence in media. After Walski's picture ran on the Times' front page on March 31, 2003, editors at the Hartford Courant(which like the "Times" is owned by the Tribune Company) noticed that several people in the photo appeared twice. Walski, who had been on the "Times" staff since 1998, was fired the following day. [ [http://www.sree.net/teaching/lateditors.html The Los Angeles Times correction and explanation] , [http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=28082 "L.A. Times Photographer Fired Over Altered Image", The Poynter Institute] ]
CNN coverage of Iraq and Eason Jordan (2003)
Eason Jordan, news chief for CNN, admitted in the New York TimesApril 2003 that the network had been aware of dictator Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses since 1990. But the network did not cover said atrocities so it could maintain access to Hussein and keep CNN's bureau in Baghdadopen. Jordan also defended the decision by saying that reporting on Hussein's crimes would have jeopardized CNN journalists and Iraqis working for them. Critics pointed out that the information on Hussein's crimes against humanityheld back by CNN was a critical part of the national debateover going to war to oust Hussein from power. [ CNN: [http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/04/11/sprj.irq.cnn.plot/index.html CNN executive: Iraq targeted network's journalists] , April 11, 2003, [http://foi.missouri.edu/jouratrisk/newswekept.html Jordan's article in the April 11, 2003 edition of The New York Times] , reprinted at The Freedom of Information Centerat the University of Missouri, [http://www.honestreporting.com/articles/critiques/CNNs_Iraqi_Cover-Up.asp CNN Iraqi Cover Up] ]
Jayson Blair, "The New York Times" (2003)
In early May 2003, "
The New York Times" reporter Jayson Blairresigned after being confronted with evidence of fabricating quotes and details in at least 36 articles. The incident, and the revelations about management that followed, shook the journalism community, given that many journalists regard the "Times" as the nation's most prestigious newspaper.
Scrutiny quickly fell on executive editor
Howell Raines, and to a lesser extent managing editor Gerald M. Boyd, as testimony from Times watchers and employees disgruntled with Raines' autocraticmanagement style showed the duo had fast-tracked Blair for promotion, despite warnings from other employees about Blair's erratic behavior and high error rate.
"Times"' Metro editor Jonathan Landman wrote in an e-mail to Raines that the paper "...need [ed] to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now."
Bernard Goldberg, in his best-selling book "Arrogance," said that by all accounts, Raines "...made Napoleon Bonapartelook like Richard Simmons." On June 5, 2003, Raines and Boyd resigned as a result of this scandal. ["New York Times", [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0910FA395B0C728DDDAC0894DB404482 "Correcting the Record: "Times" Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception," the "Times" story investigating Blair's actions,] May 11, 2003 (subscription required)]
Rick Bragg, "The New York Times" (2003)
"The New York Times" discovered that reporter Rick Bragg relied heavily on stringers and interns. Bragg's May 2003 comments to The Washington Post, dubbed "infuriating and absurd" by business reporter Alex Berenson, fueled a heated debate in the "Times" newsroom about the mechanics of reporting, proper attribution, the limits of drive-by journalism and the granting of credit to unseen subordinates, freelancers, and interns who contribute behind the scenes. The repercussions were felt far beyond Manhattan, as news executives around the country examined and in many cases tightened their policies. Bragg's defense -- that it is common for "Times" correspondents to slip in and out of cities to "get the dateline" while relying on the work of stringers, researchers, interns and clerks -- sparked more passionate disagreement than the clear-cut fraud and plagiarism committed by Blair. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A51506-2003May28?language=printer "Rick Bragg Quits At New York Times: Departure Follows Comments That Roiled Scandal-Shaken Newsroom"] by Howard Kurtz, "The Washington Post", Thursday, May 29, 2003; Page C01.]
"Gropegate", "The Los Angeles Times" (2003)
"The Los Angeles Times" drew fire for a last-minute story before the 2003 California recall election alleging that gubernatorial candidate
Arnold Schwarzeneggergroped scores of women during his movie career. While the story itself was not discredited, the newspaper's motives and timing were brought into question. The newspaper ran the story days before the recall even though it had prepared the story weeks beforehand.
Jill Stewartpointed out that the "Times" did not do a story on allegations that former Governor Gray Davishad verbally and physically abused women in his office. The Schwarzenegger story was run with a number of anonymous sources (four of the six alleged victims were not named); however, in the case of the Davis allegations, the "Times" decided against running the Davis story because of its reliance on anonymous sources.
Times editor John Carroll stated that the "Times" lost over 10,000 subscribers due to the negative publicity surrounding this article. [ [http://www.asne.org/index.cfm?ID=5133] ] [ [http://www.jillstewart.net/php/issues/issue1004.php Jill Stewart, "LA Times Covers Up Davis Violence on Female Staff," jillstewart.net] ] [ [http://www.jillstewart.net/php/issues/issue1014.php "How the Los Angeles Times Really Decided to Publish its Accounts of Women Who Said They Were Groped," jillstewart.net] ] [ [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1002-01.htm A copy of the Oct. 2, 2003 article, "Women Say Schwarzenegger Groped, Humiliated Them" (Original article not found on the "Times" Web site).] ]
tory on Barbara Schwarz, "Salt Lake Tribune" (2003)
In 2003 the "
Salt Lake Tribune" published an article entitled "S.L. Woman's Quest Strains Public Records System"citation|last=Smith|first=Christopher| publication-date =May 13, 2003|title=S.L. Woman's Quest Strains Public Records System| place =The Salt Lake Tribune|url=http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Secrets/barbara_schwarz.html|accessdate=2007-12-24.] documenting Salt Lake Cityresident Barbara Schwarz's extensive pursuit of FOIA records. Schwarz sued the "Tribune", claiming that the "Tribune's" use of “ yellow journalism” resulted in “malicious defamation”, “emotional abuse” and was accomplished by deceiving her into giving an interview, unauthorized use of her photo, violation of privacy, refusing to print a correction or letter to the editor, in addition to theft of approximately 100 photos and negatives.Hanby, Christopher [http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=15428 Utah appeals court backs reporting privilege] First Amendment Center, 06.14.05.]
In its ruling the three member court stated: "The public interest in being fully informed about controversies that often rage around sensitive issues demands that the press be afforded the freedom to report such charges without assuming responsibility for them.” Judge James Z. Davis further wrote that the "Tribune" article was protected by "the neutral reportage privilege because it contains 'accurate and disinterested reporting' of the information contained in the record." [http://www.rcfp.org/news/2005/0511-lib-neutra.html 'Neutral reportage' privilege recognized] 2005 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press]
Christopher Newton, Associated Press (2002)
Associated Pressfired Washington, D.C.bureau reporter Christopher Newton in September 2002 accusing him of fabricating at least 40 people and organizations since 2000. Some of the nonexistent agencies quoted in his stories included "Education Alliance," the "Institute for Crime and Punishment in Chicago," "Voice for the Disabled," and "People for Civil Rights." [ Slate.com: [http://www.slate.com/?id=2073304 Fib Newton] , Oct. 29, 2002.]
"Houston Chronicle" Light Rail Controversy (2002)
In late 2002 the "
Houston Chronicle" accidentally posted an internal executive memorandum to its website. The memo contained materials that appeared to outline a plan for intentionally slanted reporting that promoted a pending bond referendumin the Houston, Texasmetropolitan region. The memorandum was widely circulated and criticized in other Houston print and electronic media outlets; however the paper quietly removed it from their website. When questioned about the memo, "Chronicle" editor Jeff Cohen replied that the memo was a "story pitch" and refused to apologize for it. Other than Cohen's remarks the paper made no comment. [http://www.houstonpress.com/issues/2002-12-05/news/hostage.html] (see article on "Houston Chronicle" Light Rail Controversy).
False "military expert", Fox News (2002)
For four months in 2002,
Fox Newsused 'military expert' Joseph A. Cafassowho was supposed to be a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Special Forces, won the Silver Star for bravery, served in Vietnam and was part of the failed mission to rescue hostages in Iran in 1980. Cafasso assisted and shared tips with reporters, producers and on-air consultants at Fox. It was discovered that Cafasso had only served 44 days in Army Boot Camp and was discharged as a Private. After he left, Fox was criticized for using him as a 'Military Expert' without ever checking his record and credentials. [http://www.pownetwork.org/phonies/phonies99.htm] [ The New York Times[http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00C1EF9355A0C7A8EDDAD0894DA404482 At Fox News, the Colonel Who Wasn't] ]
"Palestinian" photo, Associated Press (2000)
In 2000, the
Associated Pressreleased a photograph of Jewish American Tuvia Grossmanbeing protected from a Palestinian mob by an Israeli police officer. Its caption said: "An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount." The picture, with the misleading caption, was printed in the "New York Times" and other American newspapers leading to public protests. [http://www.honestreporting.com/articles/reports/The_Photo_that_Started_it_All.asp The Photo that Started it All] by Honest Reporting] [http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1060 Those Aren't Stones, They're Rocks] by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting] cite news
title=Abruptly, a U.S. Student In Mideast Turmoil's Grip
October 7, 2000
New York Times]
Patricia Smith, "Boston Globe" (1998)
Shortly after the Glass affair, award-winning columnist
Patricia Smithwas asked to resign from the " Boston Globe". Smith, who was a Pulitzer Prizefinalist that year and won the American Society of Newspaper Editors' Distinguished Writing Award for column-writing, admitted to putting fictional people in four of her columns. [ [http://www.cnn.com/US/9806/19/globe.columnist.resigns/ CNN - Boston Globe columnist resigns, accused of fabrications - June 19, 1998 ] ] The Globe later returned her ASNE award and withdrew her from consideration for the Pulitzer.
Race also became a touchy point in Smith's firing, because while the "Globe" fired Smith, who is black, they only suspended columnist
Mike Barniclefor his plagiarism. Columnist Eileen McNamaraargued that Smith's race caused her editors give her the benefit of the doubt when she had been previously suspected of fabrications: "It was the worst sort of racism that kept us from confronting the fraud we long suspected. If we did ask, and she did tell, we might lose her, and where would we be then? Where would we find an honest black woman columnist who wrote with such power and grace?" Her editors proved that some of Smith's sources were faked when they could not find some of the people that were discussed in her columns, such as cosmetologist"Janine Byrne"; since cosmetologists' jobs are state-licensed, the "Globe" did a search for the name in the state's registry. [CNN: [http://www.cnn.com/US/9806/19/globe.columnist.resigns/ Boston Globe columnist resigns, accused of fabrications] , American Journalism Review: [http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=648 Secrets and Lies] , Salon.com: [http://www.salon.com/media/1998/06/26media.html Confabulation crisis] ]
Operation Tailwind, "CNN NewsStand" (1998)
On the June 7 edition of "NewsStand", CNN alleged that the US used nerve gas in Laos to kill American defectors during the
Vietnam War. It retracted this statement and apologized to its viewers on July 2. [CNN: [http://www.cnn.com/US/9807/02/tailwind.johnson/ CNN retracts Tailwind coverage] ] "Time" also retracted and apologized for its coverage of the story. [ [http://www.cnn.com/US/9807/02/tailwind.time/] ]
Stephen Glass, "The New Republic" (1998)
Stephen Glass was a reporter and associate editor for "
The New Republic" magazine during the late 1990s. On May 8, 1998, " Forbes Magazine" presented "The New Republic" with evidence that Glass completely fabricated the story "Hack Heaven", a piece about a 15-year-old computer hacker who breaks into a large company's computer system and is then offered a job by the company. Glass was fired, and an internal investigation determined that 27 of 41 articles he had written for the magazine contained fabricated material. His story was dramatized in the 2003 film, " Shattered Glass". [ Salon.com: [http://archive.salon.com/21st/rose/1998/05/14straight.html Hacker heaven, editors' hell] ]
Michael Gallagher (1998)
Michael Gallagher, an
investigative reporterwith the " Cincinnati Enquirer", co-authored an 18-page expose on Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands Internationaland its business practices in Central America. Gallagher's stories relied on internal Chiquita voice mails he said were acquired from an inside source, but he had actually been illegally tapping into the company's voice mailsystem. The paper retracted the stories, ran a front-page apology for three days and paid the company in excess of $10 million in damages, and allegedly agreed not to write further investigative pieces on the mammoth fruit company. The co-author of the stories, Cameron McWhirter, was unaware of what Gallagher was doing. The paper's editor, Lawrence K. Beaupre, was reassigned to Gannettheadquarters following accusations that he did not adequately fact-check the stories because of his eagerness to win a Pulitzer Prize. [ American Journalism Review: [http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=543 Bitter Fruit: How the Cincinnati Enquirer's hard-hitting investigation of Chiquita Brands International unraveled] , [http://www.mindfully.org/Pesticide/chiquita/index.html Chiquita Secrets Revealed] ]
Dot com bubble (1990s)
Dot com bubbleof the 1990sAmerican news media, including respected business publications such as " Forbes" and the " Wall Street Journal", encouraged the public to invest in risky Internetcompanies, despite many of the companies' disregard for basic financial and even legal principles. Many people lost their investments when the companies crashed in the early 2000s. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=JMVzmoK_I80C Origins of the Crash: "The Great Bubble and Its Undoing", By Roger Lowenstein, Published by Penguin, 2004, ISBN 1594200033, 9781594200038 page 114-115, Accessed Sept. 29, 2008, pages can be accessed via "preview" option.] ]
"Waiting to Explode", "Dateline NBC" (1992)
In a November 1992 segment on its "
Dateline NBC" newsmagazine program called "Waiting to Explode", NBC showed a startling video which depicted a General Motors truck exploding after a low-speed side collision with another car. However, it was later revealed that the explosion was actually caused by hidden remote-controlled incendiary devices. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F0061FFE3B5D0C728EDDAA0894DB494D81&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss] GM sued NBC and eventually won a settlement. NBC News President Michael Gardner wrote a lengthy correction that was read on Dateline, and he was forced to resign. [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00617F7345B0C738EDDAA0894DB494D81&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss]
The "Oregonian"'s coverage of the Packwood scandal (1992)
The Oregonian" was criticized when in November 1992 the " Washington Post" beat it to the story of sexual harassmentcharges against OregonRepublican Sen. Robert Packwood. The "Oregonians editors had long known about Packwood's behavior, because he had forced a kiss on one of their female reporters. [" American Journalism Review: [http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=2101 "A Newspaper Confesses: We Missed the Story"] ]
Janet Cooke, "Washington Post" (1980-1981)
Janet Cookewas a reporter for the " Washington Post" during the early 1980s. In 1980 her story, "Jimmy's World", about an 8-year old heroin addict, [http://www.uncp.edu/home/canada/work/markport/lit/litjour/spg2002/cooke.htm] sparked a frenzied, but unsuccessful, two-week scouring of Washington, D.C.at the behest of then-Mayor Marion Barry, in search of child addicts. The day after Cooke's article won a 1981 Pulitzer Prizefor journalism, her editors confronted her about discrepancies in her resume brought to their attention by The Toledo Blade, where she once worked. Cooke falsely claimed that that she attended Vassar College. Cooke confessed that "Jimmy" was a fabrication, resigned and the Post returned the prize. [http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/day/04_17_2001.html]
Walter Annenberg, "Philadelphia Inquirer" (1966)
In 1966, Pennsylvania governor and philanthropist
Milton Shappwas opposed by newspaperman Walter Annenbergbecause of Shapp's opposition to a profitable railroad merger that was sought by Annenberg based on his vested interest in the deal. Annenberg purportedly directed one of his reporters at the paper to ambush Gov. Shapp with a press conference question posed to Shapp; "isn't it true that you have been in a mental hospital"? Shapp's denial of the false implications contained in this loaded questionthen became the "news". The next day, Annenberg's paper ran front page headlines "Shapp Denies Ever having been in a Mental Home." Shapp attributed his loss of the 1966 election to Annenberg's attacks on him. cite journal|title=The Fallacy of Many Questions: On the Notions of Complexity, Loadedness and Unfair Entrapment in Interrogative Theory|journal=The Journal Argumentation|month=November | year=1999|first=Douglas|last=Walton|coauthors=|volume=13|issue=4|pages=379–383|doi= 10.1023/A:1007727929716|url=http://www.springerlink.com/content/p2664751t4130844/|format=|accessdate=2008-02-11 ] Annenberg only ended his attacks when Shapp tried to get his broadcast licenses revoked. To this day, Annenberg is remembered as a notorious scandalmonger despite his numerous philantrophies, as evidenced by Slate's obituary headline "So long, you rotten bastard". [ [http://www.slate.com/?id=2071870 Citizen Annenberg. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine ] ]
Washington D.C. "Flying Saucer" reports (1952)
1952 Washington D.C. UFO incidentunknown lights and objects were seen by several people in Washington D.C.. This was reported by newspapers all over the United States as if they had been proved to be real extraterrestrial spaceships. A typical example was the headline from the " Cedar Rapids Gazette" in Iowa. It read "SAUCERS SWARM OVER CAPITAL." [Michaels, Susan, "Sightings: UFOs". Simon and Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0684836300, Randle, Kevin D., "Invasion Washington: UFOs Over the Capitol". HarperTorch, 2001. ISBN 0380814706]
KGB editor, "New Republic" (1948 to 1956)
New Republic" editor Michael Whitney Straight(1948 to 1956) was later discovered to be a spy for the KGB, recruited into the same network as Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, and Anthony Blunt. [Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev, The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives (London: HarperCollins, 1998; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), pg., 130.] Straight's espionage activities began at Cambridgeduring the 1930s; he later claimed that they ceased during World War II. Later, shortly before serving in John Kennedyadministration, he revealed his past ties and turned in fellow spy Anthony Blunt. In return for his cooperation, his own involvement was kept secret and he continued to serve in various capacities for the US Government until he retired. Straight admitted to his involvement in his memoirs; however, subsequent documents obtained from the former KGB after the fall of the Soviet Union indicated that he drastically understated the extent of his espionage activities. [Michael Straight, After Long Silence, New York: Norton, (1983)] [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1451875/Michael-Straight.html "Michael Straight" (Obituary). Telegraph, Jan 1, 2004] ]
Japanese American internment (1942 to 1945)
After the 1941
attack on Pearl Harborby Imperial Japanmany Japanese Americanswere forced from their homes and held in "War Relocation Camps" until the end of the Second World Warin 1945. At the time Japanese American internmentwas supported by American newspapers. The " Los Angeles Times" wrote: "A viper is nonetheless a viper whenever the egg is hatched - so a Japanese American, born of Japanese parents - grows up to be a Japanese, not an American." [Andrew E. Taslitz, STORIES OF FOURTH AMENDMENT DISRESPECT: FROM ELIAN TO THE INTERNMENT, 70 Fordham L. Rev. 2257, 2306-07 (2002).]
Downplaying Nazism, "New York Times" (1930s and 1940s)
New York Times" has been accused of downplaying accusations that Nazi Germanyhad targeted Jews for expulsion and genocide, in part because the publisher, who was Jewish, feared the taint of taking on any "Jewish cause". [cite book|title = Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper|last = Leff|first = Laurel|publisher = Cambridge University Press|origdate = 2005-03-21|isbn = 0-521-81287-9|location = New York|format = hardback, paperback]
Walter Duranty, "The New York Times" (1930s)
Walter Duranty, who covered the Soviet Unionfor " The New York Times", won the Pulitzer Prizein 1932 for a series of articles he wrote about Joseph Stalin's effort to industrialize the nation. His stories not only uncritically backed Stalinist propaganda, but also denied that the Ukrainian famine, which killed millions as a direct or indirect result of Stalinist planning, took place. Duranty also defended Stalin's infamous show trials.
Despite efforts by Ukrainian groups to get the prize revoked, the Pulitzer board declined to do so and both the Pulitzer board and "The New York Times" still list Duranty among its prize winners, albeit with a footnote that his work is disputed. "The New York Times" hired Mark Von Hagen, a professor of Russian history, to review Duranty's work. The review concluded Duranty's reports to be unbalanced and uncritical, and they often gave voice to Stalin's
Henry Ford, "The Dearborn Independent" (1920s)
In the early 1920s,
Henry Ford, an American industrialist, automobile developer and manufacturer, published a series of anti-Jewish articles in a Detroitarea newspaper he owned, " The Dearborn Independent", under the title: "." [ Ford R. Bryan: "Henry's Lieutenants". Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8143-2428-2, Albert Lee: "Henry Ford and the Jews". New York: Stein and Day, 1980. ISBN 0-8128-2701-5, Max Wallace: "The American Axis - Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich". New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003. ISBN 0-312-29022-5]
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, "The Philadelphia Public Ledger" (1919)
On October 27 and 28, 1919, the
Philadelphia"Public Ledger" published excerpts of an English language translation of the famous anti-Jewish tract (itself a forgery) " The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as the "Red Bible," deleting all references to the purported Jewish authorship and re-casting the document as a Bolshevist manifesto.The author of the articles was the paper's correspondentat the time, Carl W. Ackerman, who later became the head of the journalismdepartment at Columbia University.cite book
last = Jenkins
first = Philip
title = Hoods and Shirts: The Extreme Right in Pennsylvania, 1925-1950
pages = 114
isbn = 0807823163 ]
Call for genocide of Native Americans (1891)
L. Frank Baum(later known as the author of " The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"), wrote in the "Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer" ( Aberdeen, South Dakota) on January 3, 1891: "The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past." [ [http://www.northern.edu/hastingw/baumedts.htm Baum's "Genocide" Editorials] ]
Massacre of African Americans (1831)
In the aftermath of
Nat Turner's slave rebellionin Southampton County, Virginia, August 1831, hundreds of African Americanswho had not taken part were murdered by militiasand mobsthough out the American South. Those guilty were never brought to trial; an outcome justified by many Southern newspapers, including the Richmond "Whig", the Huntsville "Southern Advocate", and the Richmond "Enquirer". [cite book | last=Aptheker | first=Herbert | authorlink=Herbert Aptheker|title=American Negro Slave Revolts | publisher= International Publishers| location=New York | year = 1993|isbn=0-7178-0605-7 |ed=6th| pages=p298 ]
Accuracy in Media
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Journalism ethics and standards
Plagiarism(possibly the most common journalism scandal)
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