Psych! Reporter Not Available For Interviews

Fortune issued a press release today pushing a lengthy investigative piece on the “Fast and Furious” scandal by contributor Katherine Eban. The release says the reporter “is available for interviews.” But it turns out, she’s actually not.

In her report, Eban uncovered new details on Fast and Furious:

  • Many on the right believe F&F, a botched government sting operation intended to crack down on arms trafficking by tracking gun sales on the Mexican-American border, is a ploy by the Obama administration to actually increase gun regulations. The report says government “gun seizures… in Phoenix dropped by more than 90%.”
  • The operation gained traction in the media after an ATF agent told CBS News his boss had “intentionally allowed American firearms to be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels.” Eban’s story cites other agents involved in the case who say there was no intentional trafficking and they “seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws.”
  • Eban notes a report by CBS News that took government emails out of context or completely misinterpreted them, feeding into a narrative that the government intentionally sold weapons to drug cartels.
  • The Obama administration has essentially allowed Republicans in Congress to aggressively investigate the matter without putting up much of a defense “in an apparent effort to avoid a rhetorical battle over gun control in the run-up to the presidential election.”

A publicist pitched Eban’s story to us as containing “a strange and unsettling saga, one that reveals a lot about politics and media.” How mysterious.

Other than the part about the CBS News report, there’s not much about media. Eban’s story says Fast and Furious was picked up “first by right-wing bloggers, then by CBS” before becoming “a fixture on Fox News and the subject of numerous reports in media outlets from CNN to the New York Times.” So, we took the bait and arranged through the publicist to have Eban answer questions about what role the news media had in driving the F&F story.

We asked if Eban could name specific “right-wing bloggers or blogs” that amplified the story, differences she might have noticed in coverage by competing news outlets and whether she felt it was a story that was generally over hyped by the news media.

Two hours later, the publicist called to tell us our questions were already addressed in the story and Eban wouldn’t be doing the interview.

Just a heads up to reporters out there who don’t have time to waste on fake-out interviews: Don’t bother.