Washington Examiner Gets Snookered

Imagine if the NYT reported, “George W. Bush was spotted entering the Oval Office on Monday…” only to find out it wasn’t Bush but someone who looked just like him. They refuse to say “we goofed” and, instead, blame the Bush impersonator.

In essence this is what the Washington Examiner did Monday when they allowed the Yeas & Nays column to explain away their reporting that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Vince Young appeared at L2 Lounge. They wrote, “This was just another appearance by an impostor whose been trying to scam people in D.C. and Philadelphia.”

In other words, the Examiner erred in printing the item. Sure it happens. Even some reporters were fooled by underage “girls” claiming to have had online interactions with ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and we know how horribly that turned out until the NYT unearthed the truth.

As Editor Stephen Smith explains it, the newspaper was fooled back on Sept. 11. “However on Monday it came to our attention that this was just another appearance by an impostor who’s been trying to scam people in D.C. and Philadelphia. It seems to me that we were pretty clear about having been snookered by this guy. Other people who fell for his patter included hospital personnel, assorted women, various celebrities.” He concluded, “All in all, I think the Yeas & Nays team handled the hoax responsibly and forthrightly.” (See Smith’s timeline after jump…)

An explanation of how an impersonator duped them might be interesting in addition to this three-sentence correction: “On Sept. 11, Yeas & Nays reported that Vince Young appeared at the L2 Lounge Saturday night. He was not. It wasn’t him.”

Here we have fake nails. Can you tell the difference between these honkers and au natural?

Stephen Smith’s Timeline

Sept. 9 – A man pretending to be Vince Young shows up at L2, poses for pictures with birthday girl Jana Sedlakova. Everyone from the bouncer to the publicist to the guests think that it’s the real Vince Young.

Sept. 11 – Yeas & Nays does a “sightings” on “Young” being at the club, using sources who were at the club and receiving the photo of “Young” and Sedlakova.

Sept. 19 – In the early a.m. the Examiner’s web team receives a call from a man saying he’s Vince Young and that he wants our Sept. 11 item removed from our website. I alert Y/N writers Nikki Schwab and Katy Adams. Schwab calls the man and he doesn’t answer, but then he calls her back. She talks to him about why he wants the item removed, he gives her an explanation about it being a “conflict of interest.” That was all before noon. At around 2 p.m. another reporter in the newsroom sees an item on NBC Washington that Vince Young has an impostor in the area and that’s when Yeas & Nays put the pieces together and concluded that the “Vince Young” at L2 was the impostor.

Publish date: September 20, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/washington-examiner-gets-snookered/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT