As a former TV network journalist, I am beginning to wonder how much background checking today’s crop of reporters actually do before they write a story. Yesterday, for example, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post wrote a story about Alexis Debat under the headline, “Consultant Probed in Bogus Interview.”
Kurtz reported that Debat’s “doctoral thesis is posted on the Sorbonne’s Web site.” No reference can be found about Debat, thesis or otherwise, on the Sorbonnne’s Web site.
If Debat is not only a phony but a con artist who cleverly played the hunger by academia and the news media to learn more about the threat of terrorists, what does this say about their credibility? What level of background checking was conducted by ABC News, the Nixon Center, George Washington University, Middlebury College and other places he apparently played against each other to perpetuate his fraudulent expertise? And, how many other such phony pundits are there who will show up on cable news programs today, making up stories.
Here’s an interesting sidebar — I checked early this morning whether “alexisdebat.com” was a Web address registered to anyone. Nope. Yet, two hours later, it had been snapped by an opportunist in New York, possibly to make a buck on the publicity.