On Tuesday afternoon, The Intercept’s editor-in-chief Betsy Reed announced that Juan Thompson, who until recently had been a reporter at the website, had made up sources, fabricated quotes, and even set up fake email addresses that “he used to impersonate people”—including Reed herself.
The most notable of Thompson’s apparent deceptions is his story about “Scott,” supposedly the cousin of Dylann Roof, who killed nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel Church. Thompson’s story, “Dylann Roof’s Cousin Claims Love Interest Chose Black Man Over Him,” was widely cited and circulated, but The Intercept recently discovered that “Scott” doesn’t exist.
As a result of its investigations, The Intercept has retracted the “Scott Roof” story and corrected four others. Gawker published a letter (purportedly) sent by Thompson to Reed earlier today, in which he makes a case that others should be blamed. After referring to the radiation treatment he is receiving to stop the spread of testicular cancer, Thompson writes, “I had a habit of writing drafts of stories, placing the names of ppl I wanted to get quotes from in there, and then going to fetch the quotes,” then blames editors for not competently editing him. Thompson also suggests that he experienced a pattern of racial abuse while at First Look. At no point, however, does he deny any of the specific charges.
UPDATE: Reed has told Gawker’s J.K. Trotter that the paragraph detailing racial abuse at The Intercept was not included in the email sent to her by Thompson.