Et Tu, Journalists Who Wrote That Bogus George Clooney Item?

As we reported Wednesday, George Clooney rarely calls out the media. But when he does, be it over a 2013 item about the delayed release of Monuments Men or a 2014 item about his future wife, it’s duly noted.

With criticism of the Daily Mail continuing for a piece that has since been deleted (a Slate op-ed by Will Oremus for example is headlined “George Clooney is Right About the Daily Mail“), we wondered about the reporters caught in the middle.

The single source for the article is a “Lebanese friend of the [Alamuddin] family in London” (also later identified by the Mail as a “reputable and trusted freelance journalist”). The byline lists as authors Hannah Roberts, a freelance journalist in Rome, and Sara Nathan, New York-geo-tagged showbiz editor-at-large for MailOnline US. Although there is no sign of an apology on either writer’s Twitter feed, Roberts has been silent there since this Clooney business broke. Nathan, at her end, has moved on to other topics like the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations.

MailOnline expects reporters like Nathan to grind out a steady volume of high-impact Web items. Both she and Roberts may have been instructed not to tweet or comment about the Clooney matter, as the Mail in its statement of apology promised a full investigation.

In the meantime, getting back to Oremus, the Slate technology writer suggests that the quick deletion of the MailOnline article may end up saying more about the paper than any internal findings or reporter discipline:

More careful news organizations would be shocked by allegations like Clooney’s, and their first priority would be to go to their reporters and editors and find out what happened. The Mail story’s immediate removal – before the paper even begins its promised “full investigation” into the facts — implies that its leaders have no trouble believing that what it printed was essentially a pack of falsehoods.

Update (July 11):
Clooney has penned a brief second article for USA Today. Responding to the Daily Mail‘s apology, he writes:

They knew ahead of time that they were lying. In an article dated April 28, 2014, reporter Richard Spillett writes that “Ramzi, (Amal’s father), married outside the Druze faith,” and a family friend said that “Baria, (Amal’s mom), is not Druze.” The Mail knew the [July 7] story in question was false and printed it anyway.

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