Journalists Who Were Caught Lying

It's not just politicians who lie through their teeth. Even some of the most trusted names in news have told a tall tale here or there. Some of them are even featured in celebrities who plagiarized. Which journalists have lied? Well, NBC suspended Brian Williams for half a year after he was caught lying about his experience in a war-torn Iraq. CBS suspended Lara Logan after she was caught lying about a contractor's experience in Benghazi. As it turns out, journalists lie all the time and, thanks to other journalists, they are often caught. This list of news reporters, anchors, and hosts who have lied to their viewers and readers will have you questioning where you get your daily news.

From Bill O'Reilly's war story, which turned out to be fabricated, to reporters like Stephen Glass, whose lies have launched Hollywood films, there is sadly no shortage of liars who are themselves employed to catch liars and report the truth.

The major networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have all had their share of correspondents and anchors who have fabricated and even directly misled. In 2003, The New York Times even had to fire a journalist whose articles were often made up. Meanwhile, cable news channels like MSNBC and Fox News have introduced news anchors like Ed Schultz and Steve Doocy, respectively, who have been caught putting politics before journalism.

Read about these journalists who ended up facing criticism and unemployment for reporting pure lies and fiction in place of the truth.

  • Claas Relotius

    Claas Relotius
    Photo: Freitag / YouTube

    German journalist Claas Relotius, who has won several awards for his articles and work with Der Spiegel, came under fire in 2018 for falsifying his work for years. In addition to being stripped of some of his previous awards, Relotius also willingly returned others he had received, including the German reporter of the year.

    Of the embellished stories published, Relotius allegedly interviewed a Syrian boy who, upon investigation, may have never spoken with Relotius—or even exist.

  • Juan Thompson

    Juan Thompson, a reporter for national security-focused website The Intercept, made up sources and fabricated quotes for the publication, even going so far as to create a fake email address in order to impersonate a source. His poor journalistic practices were revealed in 2016, when the site was forced to make severe corrections to four of his articles, and fully retract another.

    According to his boss, editor-in-chief Betsy Reed, "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.

    In his reporting Thompson also used quotes that we cannot verify from unnamed people whom he claimed to have encountered at public events. Thompson went to great lengths to deceive his editors, creating an email account to impersonate a source and lying about his reporting methods."


  • NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was caught lying about riding in a helicopter that was shot down in Iraq in 2003. In 2015, NBC suspended him for six months without pay and the Peabody Award-winning newsman became the top story himself.

    Source: USA Today
  • Bill O'Reilly
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    Dubbed "Bill O'Lie-lly" by Senator Al Franken, Fox News Channel star Bill O'Reilly was caught lying about experiencing war in 1982 between Argentina and England. In 2015, the cable news networks, and other news outlets, began focusing on the political pundit's lie.

    Source: Mother Jones
  • Rachel Maddow
    Photo: flickr / CC0

    MSNBC's Rachel Maddow was caught lying in 2011 when she accused Rush Limbaugh of racism and cited "birther" remarks he made after Obama's birth certificate was released. She was forced to apologize to Limbaugh and on the air when NewsBusters reported the video she used was from before the certificate's release (one year old rather than one day old).

  • Jayson Blair
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

    The New York Times staff reporter Jayson Blair was caught lying about entire stories, sometimes making up quotes and scenes that never even occurred. The Times called Blair's lying a "low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper" and fired him on May 1, 2003.

    Source: The New York Times