Reporter fired for fabricating stories about Dylann Roof

'Spotlight': Featurette - State Of Journalism
'Spotlight': Featurette - State Of Journalism



The investigative publication The Intercept has fired a reporter that faked quotes around various news events, all of them race-related and highly inflammatory.

Juan Thompson, hired in November 2014, fabricated quotes in various stories, even going as far as creating fake email accounts to impersonate sources and even Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept, Reed said.

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"Thompson went to great lengths to deceive his editors, creating an email account to impersonate a source and lying about his reporting methods," Reed wrote in a postannouncing the departure and corrections.

The publication has completely retracted one story, which claimed that Dylann Roof, who allegedly murdered nine black churchgoers in South Carolina, had lost a love interest to a black man. The article erroneously attributed the fabricated story to Scott Roof, a relative.

Click through reaction from the Charleston shooting:

That article remains online but now has the following editor's note:

That story received widespread attention and was aggregated by a variety of other media organizations including the New York Daily News.

Four other articles have been corrected, all of which touch on racial issues.

Thompson admitted to the fake email accounts and messages but "stood by his published work," Reed wrote.

Thompson had previously interned at DNAinfo Chicago. One of his previous editors sent a tweet alluding to previous infractions.


The Intercept is part of First Look Media, which launched in 2013 with backing from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and a group of highly touted investigative journalists including Glenn Greenwald.

The publication celebrated its first American Society of Magazine Editors award Monday night for its columns and commentary from jailed journalist Barrett Brown.