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10 Jaw-Dropping Journalism Scandals

First Posted: 07/08/11 03:52 PM ET   Updated: 09/07/11 06:12 AM ET

The undoing of the News of the World is rocking the media sphere, with some calling it "the greatest journalistic scandal that we've ever known."

But how do the phone hacking allegations stack up to other journalism scandals? The journalism industry, charged with digging up dirt on everyone else, is no stranger to its own foibles. From fabricating stories about John Kerry's manicures to passing pornography off as real photos on the front page, here are ten scandals to behold.

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  • Bush Administration Paid Journalists

    A 2005 USA Today investigative report revealed that the <a href="" target="_hplink">Bush administration paid columnists</a> hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to promote the administration's policies. Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus were among those who received money to support No Child Left Behind and Bush's marriage initiative in their pieces.

  • Boston Globe Published Fake Porn Pics

    In 2004, the <a href="" target="_hplink">Boston Globe printed pictures</a> from a porn website called "Sex in War" that it claimed depicted U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women. Other news sources <a href="" target="_hplink">exposed the photos as fakes</a> a week before the Boston Globe published them, and critics alleged that a simple Google search would've shown as much.

  • WaPo Journalist Fabricated Child Heroin Addict Story

    In 1980, Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke penned <a href="" target="_hplink">"Jimmy's World,"</a> about an 8-year old heroin addict, sparking an all-out police search for the boy that turned up nothing. Days after her article won the Pulitzer Prize, her editors confronted her about inconsistencies in her resume and she confessed that Jimmy didn't exist.

  • Rathergate at CBS

    In 2004, a 60 Minutes II report alleged that George W. Bush failed to fulfill his service to the National Guard, relying on documents that were <a href="" target="_hplink">revealed to be forged</a>. CBS News producer Mary Mapes got the infamous documents from a former U.S. Army National Guard officer who later admitted to lying about their source. The scandal resulted in Mapes's termination, the resignation of other news execs and, some speculate, anchor Dan Rather's retirement a year earlier than planned.

  • CNN Knew About Human Rights Abuses in Iraq

    In 2003, CNN news chief Eason Jordan revealed that <a href="" target="_hplink">the network had known about Saddam Hussein's human rights abuses</a> since 1990, but didn't report them to keep the Baghdad bureau open and protect the safety of its employees and sources.

  • Jayson Blair at the New York Times

    27-year-old Jayson Blair was an emerging force at the New York Times in 2003 when it was discovered that he had plagiarized and fabricated facts in at least 36 articles for the paper. An ensuing investigation revealed that Blair made up names, quotes and scenes for high-profile stories on Jessica Lynch, the families of other soldiers in Iraq and the 2002 sniper attacks. Then-executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd resigned in the fallout of the scandal, which the Times called "<a href="" target="_hplink">a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper</a>."

  • Packwood Scandal at the Oregonian

    The Oregonian failed to investigate evidence that <a href="" target="_hplink">Sen. Robert Packwood had sexually harassed several women</a>, even though he had kissed one of the paper's own reporters after an interview. The Washington Post broke the story in 1992, creating a serious lack of trust that the Oregonian would take on the state's power brokers, which was only compounded in 2004 when the paper <a href=" " target="_hplink">underreported former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's statuatory rape</a> of a 14-year old girl as an "affair."

  • Fox News Faked Kerry Manicure Report

    Weeks before the 2004 presidential election, Fox News political reporter Carl Cameron claimed in an <a href="" target="_hplink">article</a> that candidate John Kerry received a pre-debate manicure and gloated about it. Cameron attributed fabricated quotes to Kerry, including "Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" and "Women should like me! I do manicures." Fox retracted the piece and apologized, blaming its publication on "bad judgment and fatigue."

  • NBC Staged Explosion On-Air

    A 1992 Dateline NBC segment showed a General Motors truck exploding after a low-speed crash with another car. GM later sued the network when the explosion was <a href=",,305709,00.html" target="_hplink">revealed to have been staged</a> with remote-controlled devices, and NBC News President Michael Gartner was forced to resign.

  • Tribune CEO Accused of Pervasive Sex Talk

    Randy Michaels resigned as the Tribune Company's CEO in 2010 after allegations that his leadership transformed the company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, into "<a href="" target="_hplink">a frat house, complete with poker parties, juke boxes and pervasive sex talk</a>." Michaels allegedly discussed the sexual suitability of co-workers, and told a waitress he would give her $100 to show him her breasts in front of his co-workers.


Filed by Katherine Fung  |