A French reporter and former consultant of ABC News is under fire for reportedly faking interviews with Obama and several other high profile figures.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It takes an accomplished reporter to land interviews with the likes of Sen. Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And Alexis Debat, a French reporter and former ABC News terrorism consultant, published sit-downs with those prominent newsmakers and more in a French foreign affairs journal over the last five years.
There's only one problem. None of the interviews actually happened.
A French Web site, Rue 89, recently uncovered the fake Obama interview, prompting ABC News to investigate Debat's other recent high profile gets. And on Thursday, Brian Ross of ABC News wrote on his blog that spokespeople for several prominent politicos confirmed to the network that Debat had never spoken with the subjects in question.
Patrick Wajsman, Debat's editor at Politique Internationale, told ABC News, "This guy is just sick," and added, "I was a victim of this man. I had no reason to suspect someone like him could lie."
ABC News actually fired Debat in June after his claim of having earned a doctorate at the Sorbonne was proven false.
According to Ross, Debat admitted to ABC that he did not conduct interviews with Clinton, Pelosi, and Bloomberg, as well as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, or former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
But he claims the interview with Obama was not fake, saying a freelance journalist under his employment questioned the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential hopeful. Ross said ABC News has not yet been able to validate this claim.
ABC News says it is currently reviewing all stories Debat contributed to since his hiring in 2001.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney