Forbes.com posted a piece this morning with the headline, “How this guy lied his way into MSNBC, ABC News, New York Times and others.”
“This guy” is Ryan Holiday and he tells Romenesko readers:
I wanted to prove that HelpAReporterOut embodies so much that is wrong with online journalism. Reverse engineering stories from search times, not fact checking, not caring about self promotion etc. So I went out and tricked close to 2 dozen reporters — and was shocked to also find the NYTimes, Reuters, Today Show, everyone fell for it. In some cases, I didn’t even do it. I just had an assistant pretend to be me on the phone or over email. Not ONE person bothered to notice that I have a book out about media manipulation.
A bit stuntish? Yes but I felt like it was the only way anyone would pay attention.
Holiday sent this response to Furchgott and cc’d me:
You may have seen the story on Romenesko this morning. Just wanted to respond (and actually apologize)
I have to be honest, I not only don’t own a turntable, I don’t even know what LP stands for. I running an investigative experiment to prove that HARO was a source of misinformation for bloggers — that they would print anything that confirmed the story they already wanted to write. I felt like it was dominated by marketers and self-promoters and that that ruins the news.
You got caught in the middle of that — I didn’t want to hurt anyone individually. I hope it doesn’t cause issues for you and I’m sorry if that happens. I think the problem here is with the system and you were doing your job as basically it has to be done these days. I never thought my expose would reach all the way to the New York Times, but it did and I felt obligated to take my point to its ultimate conclusion
I’m pretty jaded and this whole thing surprised even me.
A correction probably makes sense here and I’m happy to give comment if you need me too.