Ben Hoffman was on the May 30 Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend podcast, to talk about his country music performer alter-ego, Wheeler Walker Jr.
What struck me was the part (approximately 46 minutes in) where Hoffman talks about being slammed by a journalist who was offended by his use of the word "bitch" but didn't bother to get to page 2 of a Google search to realize that Wheeler wasn't an actual person.
I thought of "Administration sources said under condition of anonymity." I thought of Monte Teo's non-existent girlfriend.
I thought of journalists that don't have a curious mind. Who take whatever is brought to them at face value, and report it. Wheeler has a record out, so Wheeler is a person. Just as Saddam had WMDs.
And I'm not even asking journalists to be skeptics. Just to be curious. Just to say, "Oh, what an interesting person! What an interesting story! What is the background to this?"
Deadspin didn't try to debunk Monte Teo's girlfriend story. That was just the result of natural curiosity.
And I find it strange. Why be a journalist if you're just going to repeat what's already been told? Isn't the joy in finding the story behind the story?
It doesn't have to be debunking. It doesn't have to be critical. But can't it just find out, to the best of personal ability, who what where and why?