Juan Thompson, who was fired from The Intercept last year for fabricating quotes, has been arrested on suspicion of making bomb threats against Jewish community centers.
An anonymous threat emailed to a JCC in Manhattan earlier in February included Thompson’s own name. It said he ‘put two bombs in the office of the Jewish center today. He wants to create Jewish Newtown tomorrow,’ the complaint said. ‘Newtown’ apparently refers to the December 2012 massacre at a Connecticut school that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children.
The staff of The Intercept was “horrified” to hear about the charges, according to a statement from Editor-in-Chief Betsy Reed.
“We were horrified to learn this morning that Juan Thompson, a former employee of The Intercept, has been arrested in connection with bomb threats against the ADL and multiple Jewish Community Centers in addition to cyberstalking,” the statement reads. “These actions are heinous and should be fully investigated and prosecuted. We have no information about the charges against Thompson other than what is included in the criminal complaint.”
Among the most egregious of Thompson’s fabrications was a bogus claim that he spoke with Scott Roof, ostensibly Dylann Roof’s cousin but actually a fictional source.
Last February, Reed published the results of an investigation that revealed “a pattern of deception” by Thomson, which included made-up quotes and fake email accounts used to impersonate people.
An investigation into Thompson’s reporting turned up three instances in which quotes were attributed to people who said they had not been interviewed. In other instances, quotes were attributed to individuals we could not reach, who could not remember speaking with him, or whose identities could not be confirmed.
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics. He’s also reported for USA TODAY College and The Sacramento Bee, and he was editor in chief of The Orion, Chico State’s student-run newspaper. An Air Force brat who grew up around Northern California, he’s still adjusting to the Florida sunshine.