Disgraced Reporter Juan Thompson Hired, Fired From New Writing Job


Disgraced reporter Juan Thompson fired from latest writing gig. - COURTESY BRIC TV
  • Disgraced reporter Juan Thompson fired from latest writing gig.
Juan Thompson, the St. Louis native whose journalism career crumbled this winter after fabrications were discovered in his stories, resurfaced as a writer for an online news site September 9.

But the new gig also wasn't to last. Thompson was fired from Media Blackout USA on September 11 after filing just a half-dozen stories, the organization says.

"He didn't do anything wrong (during) his short stay with us," Media Blackout wrote in an email to the Riverfront Times. "But we can't be affiliated with someone who writes fake reports."

Thompson was the subject of an RFT cover story in February 2015 after he was bounced from a reporting job with The Intercept. Editors for the site, co-founded by Edward Snowden confidante Glenn Greenwald, accused Thompson of inventing quotes and sources in multiple stories.

The worst of it was a supposedly exclusive interview with a cousin of accused killer Dylann Roof after the slaughter of nine members of an historic black church in South Carolina. Investigators at the Intercept, while reviewing Thompson's work, could find no evidence the cousin exists.

Thompson claimed that racism had led to his ouster from the left-leaning site, but the RFT's investigation turned up several other problems with his reporting, going back to his first days in journalism writing for his college newspaper. 

Thompson, who grew up in the Wells-Goodfellow neighborhood, had remained relatively quiet in the months since. He emerged briefly in July with a fiery essay on self-publishing site Medium, blasting The Intercept and the "New York liberal media" for their "arrogant, patronizing, bigotry." The 5,273-word piece, titled "'We Own You.' — On The Intercept's Problem with Black Folk" was an expanded version of complaints he'd previously raised in an interview with the RFT and versions of an email he'd sent his former boss.

The essay begins with a familiar Thompson flourish, a vividly told anecdote — this one about supposedly hiding for 40 minutes in the freezer of a Brooklyn market during an armed robbery. He concludes, "at least this isn't as bad as working at The Intercept" and goes on to compare his former bosses to slave masters.

The Intercept has denied Thompson's claims of racism and says he was fired for bad journalism.

In his brief tenure at Media Blackout, Thompson's stories were fairly straightforward aggregations of news previously reported. All seem to have been properly sourced to other outlets, usually with links.

In an email, the site praised Thompson as a "great writer," but his new bosses felt compelled to cut ties after "doing more research on him."

Attempts to reach Thompson were unsuccessful. 

Editor's note: The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald was misidentified in an earlier version of this story.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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