Debat Scandal Roils ABC News
More shocking revelations today in the story of the former ABC News Consultant Alexis Debat who faked interviews for a French news magazines.
Laura Rozen*, writing for Mother Jones' blog, has been on the story since it broke and has ferreted out much useful information. Just about everything Debat said he was turns out to be a lie:
Riché also reported that Debat claimed to have a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne that he did not in fact complete, and that he had exaggerated his CV in other respects—claiming to be an advisor to the French Ministry of Defense on transatlantic issues, for instance, when in fact he had been a lowly desk clerk in the bowels of the ministry for less than a year; claiming to be a visiting professor at Middlebury College, when in fact he had been a visiting instructor for a short winter term at Middlebury, and other such exaggerations. Mother Jones has obtained an annotated CV the French Embassy prepared about Debat—whose claims to be a former government official have apparently long irritated the government in Paris—outlining these and other discrepancies. (ABC believed the annotated CV was prepared by the French embassy, but sources now say it may have been annotated by a Washington-based French academic.)And ABC's Chief Investigative Reporter Brian Ross may have been less than skeptical about some of Debat's more shocking "scoops:"
Interviews with journalists, think tank associates, and a former government official indicate that there were warning signs about Debat for years—even within the network itself.This is becoming a most troubling story. Not only does it raise questions about ABC and the way the network reports stories but it calls into question their journalistic standards. Debat apparently moved easily between the worlds of reporting, consulting, and think tanks (he was director of the terrorism and national security program at the Nixon Center). He was apparently a source for some stories on ABC News as well as doing on camera work and other consulting duties. Can a source for a story also be a reporter? These and other questions must be addressed by ABC before they let this story die.
* Editor's note: an earlier version of this piece did not mention Ms. Rozen by name, and the intended link to the original article was not put in place. This is contrary to our policy, and we apologize to Ms. Rozen, Mother Jones, and to our readers for the error.