A whistleblower alerted ABC News about the reliability of its consultant
In an interview with the Washington Post, Brian Ross, chief of ABC News’ investigative unit, said he asked Alexis Debat for a copy of his doctorate « after a French official contacted the network through the embassy here » .
This is inaccurate. This whole story is not about French infighting, but instead about severe dysfunction inside ABC News.
An ABC News journalist, playing the role of a
whistleblower, investigating Debat.
The ABC news legal department then called the French embassy, not the other way around.
As Rue89 revealed, Alexis Debat, an ABC News consultant, sent other fake interviews to the French magazine Politique Internationale. Last June, he was discreetly fired by ABC News, because he couldn’t authenticate his Ph.D.
The ABC News reporter tried to alert the management of her network that Alexis Debat was not reliable.
In an e-mail she wrote last May to a researcher in a Washington think tank,
she explained she had been « quietly concerned » about Debat’s work for ABC « for some time » .
She was then in Washington, looking for information about Alexis Debat, and in particular about « an annotated copy of his resume » she had heard about.
In her e-mail, she makes it clear that she is « trying to make these inquiries as discreetly as possible, because it could be very damaging to my news organization if these allegations prove to be true, but also would be damaging to his career if they prove to be false » .
The French embassy remembers a call from a reporter with ABC News
questioning Debat’s credentials and work. A former spokesperson, Nathalie Loiseau, insists that « the French government never asked them [ABC news] anything and never contacted them » . Later, the ABC News legal department called the Embassy.
Update 3 : 34 - ABC News is upset they have made a mistake in their
public statements, and they should clarify it later today. In the e-mail she sent in May, the « whisleblower » mentioned « an annotated copy of his resume, that the French Embassy had checked out and made comments on » . That’s why the ABC News spokespeople say they heard about the story « from the French govt » .
Actually, there is a second mistake : The annotations were not made by « the French governmentt » but provided by an academic, probed by the Rand Corporation in the context of a possible employment of Debat.
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