The Washington Post’s Fabricated Heroin Child Addict
Janet Cooke, who falsely claimed a master’s degree from the University of Toledo, wrote a profile in 1980 for the Washington Post on an 8-year-old heroin addict. The story went viral and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981. Two days after winning, the Post admitted the story had been fabricated and she resigned.
“The Daily Show’s” “Blow Me” Blow Up
In 1997, then-host Craig Kilborn told Esquire in an interview that co-creator Lizz Winstead found him attractive, asserting: “If I wanted her to blow me, she would.” He was suspended and she quit some time later.
The New Republic’s Shattered Glass
Stephen Glass, formerly a journalist for The New Republic, was discovered to have fabricated almost half of his articles. In 1998, it was revealed that he had invented events, quotes and sources for a number of publications.
NY Times’ Faulty Coverage of Iraq’s Weapons Program
Judith Miller of the New York Times was discovered to have reported on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in 2002 using inaccurate information from unreliable sources. At the time, her articles were used to push the U.S. case for war with Iraq.
The New York Times’ Trail of Plagiarism
Jayson Blair worked as a journalist for the New York Times before resigning in May 2003 when his editor questioned him about similarities between his work and that of other journalists. Blair later told “Talk of the Nation” that his bad habit started when he grabbed a quote from a press conference that he had not attended.
CBS News’ Rathergate Affair
Dan Rather, then a correspondent on “60 Minutes,” produced a flawed CBS News story in September 2004 that challenged President George W. Bush’s National Guard service. Rather used fake documents to show Bush had received special treatment. Once the scandal made news, several CBS producers were fired.
Don Imus’ “Nappy-Headed Hoes” Slur
CBS fired Don Imus in April 2007 for using racial slurs on his radio program, during which he referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” Opponents protested the show, sponsors pulled advertising and the show was canceled a week later.
Sue Simmons F-Bomb Outburst
WNBC New York news anchor Sue Simmons dropped a serious gaffe in a teaser for the 11 p.m. news in July 2008, yelling “What the f-ck are you doing?” on-air. Simmons was subsequently fired, but loyal fans fueled a #SaveSueSimmons hashtag and encouraged WNBC to bring her back.
Ed Schultz’s “Right Wing Slut” Remark
MSNBC host Ed Schultz called rival pundit Laura Ingraham a “right wing slut” in May 2011, resulting in his suspension and later replacement. The slur was in response to Ingraham’s criticism of President Obama’s Ireland trip while tornadoes were devastating the United States.
News Corp.’s Phone Hacking Scandal
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation was busted for hacking the phones of celebrities, government officials and members of the British Royal Family on several occasions. The issue became a huge topic after the Guardian reported in July 2011 that the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked by News Corp., leading to the arrests of a number of top company editors.
New York Post’s Falsely Portrayed “Bag Men”
Salaheddin Barhoum and Yassine Zaimi were misidentified as the Boston Marathon bombers by the New York Post in April 2013. The publication printed a photo of the men on its front page with the damning headline “Bag Men.” They later sued for libel, invasion of privacy and emotional distress.
CBS’ Discredited “60 Minutes” on Benghazi
“60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan and her producer were asked to take a leave of absence after it was revealed her October 2013 report on Benghazi was flawed. Her eyewitness volunteered information to “60 Minutes” about an attack that differed from the version he told the FBI. She returned six months later.
CNN Reporter’s Contact High
Reporter Randi Kaye looked a bit under the influence while on air with Anderson Cooper in January 2014. In the “Gone to Pot” segment, Kaye is seen swaying back and forth and giggling while covering the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado.
BuzzFeed’s 41 Instances of Plagiarism
In July 2014, Twitter users began noticing familiar phrases between BuzzFeed writer Benny Johnson‘s articles and those of other websites. BuzzFeed found 41 times when he had plagiarized someone else’s work or improperly attributed. He was fired and BuzzFeed issued a statement.
ESPN’s Truth or Dare
Bill Simmons was suspended by ESPN for three weeks in September 2014 for his criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice scandal. He dared ESPN to fire him for speaking out, stating he’d go public about Goodell if anyone punished him. In 2015 Simmons’ contract was not renewed.
Rolling Stone’s Erroneous “A Rape on Campus” Story
Sabrina Rubin Erdely published a story in the Dec. 2014 issue of Rolling Stone that claimed several fraternity members at the University of Virginia raped a woman named “Jackie” during a chapter house party. The story was discredited after other journalists noticed discrepancies in Jackie’s story, and Rolling Stone retracted it in Apr. 2015.
New Republic’s Unwarranted Facelift
Known as the man who bought and subsequently ruined the New Republic, Chris Hughes was blasted in Dec. 2014 by the journalism community for drastically changing the publication. Approximately 50 of the magazine’s staffers resigned in protest.
ESPN’s Very Own Goes to War Over Penn State’s THON
Keith Olbermann’s sharp tongue has gotten him into trouble a few times, including his Twitter war with Penn State students in Feb. 2015 over their annual THON fundraiser. Olbermann mocked the university, which two years earlier had been penalized by the NCAA over the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. ESPN suspended him.
Brian Williams‘ Exaggerated Iraq Experience
“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams Tells Matt Lauer Suspension Was ‘Torture,’ But ‘Absolutely Necessary’ (Video)” href=”https://www.thewrap.com/brian-williams-tells-matt-lauer-suspension-was-torture-video/”>Brian Williams admitted in Feb. 2015 that he exaggerated his experience aboard a helicopter that was struck by RPG fire during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Williams was suspended by the network and will return as Brian Williams Demoted to MSNBC Breaking News Anchor” href=”https://www.thewrap.com/brian-williams-demoted-to-msnbc-breaking-news-anchor/”>a breaking news anchor for MSNBC in August.
ESPN Reporter’s Run-In with Towing Company
ESPN reporter Britt McHenry was suspended for a week in Apr. 2015 after a video in which she berates a towing company employee went viral and received heavy public backlash.
Gawker Outs Condé Nast Executive
For the first time in its history, Gawker removed a controversial post in July 2015 that outted Condé Nast’s chief financial officer for soliciting a gay porn star. Gawker’s executive editor Tommy Craggs and editor-in-chief Max Read both resigned several days later.