Washington Post Columnist Suspended For Hoax

Yesterday WASHINGTON POST columnist Mike Wise Tweeted that a source had told him that Ben Roethlisberger had been suspended for five games by the NFL in response to the Pittsburgh quarterback’s off-field issues.

Mike Wise Tweets that Ben Roethlisberger to be suspended five games by the NFL

The Twitter report from the Washington Post columnist and former NEW YORK TIMES reporter set off a chain reaction in the mainstream NFL media. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk at NBCSports.com, the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, the MIAMI HERALD and the BALTIMORE SUN all subsequently cited Wise’s report, along with other main media outlets.

(Wise was quoted about Jayson Blair affair during his NY Times tenure)

The reaction of those outlets was yet more confirmation that Twitter is now viewed by main media as a legitimate medium for breaking news - even before that news is published by the employer of the individual breaking the story.

In other words, Washington Post columnist Wise’s move to first report a major scoop on Twitter is no longer uncommon in main media circles.

A couple hours after numerous main media outlets had cited his original report about Roethlisberger, Wise Tweeted his source on the story:

Mike Wise Tweets that Ben Roethlisberger to be suspended five games by the NFL

Then, in a series of subsequent Tweets, Wise revealed that his report about Roethlisberger had been a hoax and was designed to serve “as part of a bit on my show today … I tried to test the accuracy of social media reporting.” (Wise hosts a weekday radio show in D.C.)

Wise later Tweeted that, “I was right about nobody checking facts or sourcing.

Wise was apparently unaware that by citing his original report, numerous journalistic enterprises were counting on the Washington Post and former New York Times reporter’s own facts and sourcing on the story.

In reporting Wise’s report, many of the outlets never claimed to have original facts or sourcing on the story. The citation by those outlets was instead a referendum on the credibility of Wise and his Washington Post employer.

Via email, I asked Florio, who runs one of the main media outlets to cite Wise’s original report, what he thought of the hoax. He responded: Read more…