Journalistic Ethics in Action

Amy Chozick fatuously asked in the Wall Street Journal whether Barack Obama is too physically fit. By way of support, she quoted an anonymous Yahoo! message-board poster:

“I won’t vote for any beanpole guy,” another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.

Only it turns out that the poster wrote this message in response to a question that Chozick herself posted. And not just any question, no, it was a leading question:

Does anyone out there think Barack Obama is too thin to be president? Anyone having a hard time relating to him and his “no excess body fat”? Please let me know. Thanks!

Despite the obvious nudging, only one fish bit, and that one might have been a troll. The full quote:

Yes I think He is to skinny to be President.Hillary has a potbelly and chuckybutt I’d of Voted for Her.I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.

The poster, “onlinebeerbellygirl,” created her account the same day she replied to Chozick’s message, and has never posted any other messages to Yahoo!. Need I add that there are no hits for “onlinebeerbellygirl” in any other context on the web? Or that no one else took the bait (there were only two other replies at all before Chozick’s piece in the WSJ was published)?

It’s simple. This is a firing offense. If journalists want to claim they have something professional to offer that bloggers don’t, they need to act like it.

Great detective work James, I hadn’t seen anyone else notice the one person that answered the reporter was a new account. I wonder if Yahoo could check and see if the IP addresses of her question and the answer from “onlinebeerbellygirl” matched.

Huh. I was thinking that Diana Koenig (the Corpus Christi housewife quoted in the article) might have been “onlinebeerbellygirl,” since Chozick left her email address. But this seems more plausible, especially given when the accounts were created. Ugh.