September 14th, 2007
11:34 AM ET
15 years ago

Reporter takes heat for fake Obama, Clinton interviews

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

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. looneytoon

    Move along, nothing new to see here.. ABC's fake news stories have already been well documented.

    September 14, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. Dan, TX

    Why get upset, he probably did a better job of balanced reporting than most of the stuff I see on CNN.

    September 14, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. Sam Brutcher

    As long as the reporter gets the larger narrative right, does it really matter whether the interviews actually took place? Let's not get bogged down in petty details when there's a world out there to save.

    September 14, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Jermika, Tx

    So why even report this?

    September 14, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. BCNU purple state, usa

    Maybe he could go interview Ward Churchill.

    September 14, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. tjp Valley Forge, PA

    Another news media fraud. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN. what's the difference? All have been tarnished in the rush to "make" news.

    September 14, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  7. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    No news here? Imagine if you will that this was "Faux noise" reporter?

    Yeah, thought so.

    September 14, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Cable King Pittsburgh Pa

    I can confirm that he did not interview me.

    September 14, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Query: how do you tell a fake interview with a phony candidate like Shrillary? Is it doubly unbelievable or unelectable?

    September 14, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Sharon, Baltimore, MD

    How is this any different from the many misrepresentations of fact seen everyday in the mainstream media? CNN, FOX, MSNBC etc. You have all lowered the bar for accurate reporting. You all have misleading headlines. You all have a clear preference for a candidate. I wish false reporting was news, but I hate to tell you, it has become an everyday affair. Unfortunately, most people still think they can trust the press, and you (the press) now influence elections and sway public opinion. Thanks to your deconstruction of Al Gore, we will have 8 years of the worst president in the history of this country. What has happened to fair and accurate reporting?

    September 14, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. alan St Louis Mo

    More proof that america going to be blue next election. Every one want to interview the winners and will make fake reports saying they did. Why would you wana risk getting exposed in fake reporting on the losing republicans?

    September 14, 2007 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. yousuf, lodi NJ

    Nothing is worst then watching FOXNEWS, I mean...wrong headlines, cant say a word harrasment, hmm should I go on? well, I guess somehow they've got to kill one hour of news...with BS...

    September 16, 2007 02:26 am at 2:26 am |