The old saying in journalism that “if your mother says she loves you, check it out” rang true recently with reporters at the Washington Post.
A source claiming to have had personal information about inappropriate relations with US Senate candidate Roy Moore was uncovered to be tied to an advocacy organization that attempted to trick the Post to report false allegations. If successful, it would have shown that the media failed to adequately check out its sources in a rush to print salacious information.
The sting failed, and is being held up as an example of journalists upholding the basic principles of their profession, namely, reporting the truth.
“The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap,” Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said about the sting. “Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled.”
This latest “undercover investigation” is a good reminder for clients to be aware that anything they say may become a matter of public record, regardless of the circumstances. Think you are talking to an interested student or a job candidate? Think again, they might be undercover and looking to catch you saying something that can further a cause.
It’s scary and unfortunate, but a good rule of thumb is to remember that private conversations are no longer private, and don’t share information that you wouldn’t put in a press release.
In terms of fake reporters, we created this video with tips to help from getting duped: