The Dangers of Reporting From Twitter

Twitter isn’t a great excuse for faulty journalism.

There are two involved parties here. 1. ESPN reporter Dana Wessel, who joked on Twitter about an offer supposedly made by President Obama at the White House to former U.S. World Cup soccer player Landon Donovan. 2. San Jose Mercury News sports reporter Elliott Almond who believed him and reported it without any attribution whatsoever.

Granted, the San Jose Mercury News reporter is the bigger idiot. But joking about the President’s words in a way that isn’t obviously joking isn’t the greatest act in the world, either.

Here’s how it all began.

The San Jose Mercury News reporter then picks it up right off Twitter and puts it in an entire story, no attribution and not realizing it was a joke:


Wessel soon clarified his joke, but retweeted the San Jose Mercury News reporter’s story to show how crazy it is that the guy just pulled an Obama quote off Twitter and plopped it into a story without checking it out:

I didn’t think it needed to be said, but enough people asked. No, the President did not offer Air Force One for an athlete to go play a game — Dana Wessel (@DanaWessel) March 26, 2013

Almond’s story remains as is, wrong and published in the San Jose Mercury News. “I told the guy on Twitter it was a joke and he responded to me acknowledging that he had been duped but apparently he never bothered to change his story or file a retraction,” Wessel told FishbowlDC. “Pretty sloppy.”

We’ve requested a comment from Almond.

UPDATE: At this point, Almond has declined to be quoted on the record.