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Juan Thompson, Disgraced Journalist, Jilted Lover, and “Hate Crime” Counterfeiter

Posted by prof e on March 6, 2017

media-ethics-980x560-c-default1The tragic roster of journalists who have disgraced their profession gained a new member last week when Juan Thompson, a reporter for the Intercept, was arrested on a number of serious charges. Those charges include “making more than a half-dozen bomb threats against Jewish community centers, schools and a Jewish history museum” as reported in the NY Times.

This come after Thompson was fired from his job as a reporter last year. According to media reports Thompson was “accused by the website the Intercept of fabricating quotes, creating fake email accounts, and impersonating other people, including the editor of the website. The site had described Thompson as a former reporter for DNAinfo Chicago and for WBEZ.”

Turns out that his journalistic malpractice was just the tip of the iceberg. Actually an iceberg it too generous of an analogy; glacial ice too pure to describe this maleficence. Thompson’s deceptive acts as a journalist were just the festering sore on the surface masking the cancer inside.

Thompson’s threats against Jewish schools and community centers came at a time when other, unrelated, anti-Semitic threats were being made and Jewish cemeteries were being vandalized. These hate crimes have been and continue to be covered by the news media as further evidence of the hatred and divisiveness ailing our country.

But Thompson’s acts were not, as it turned out, hate crimes against a religious minority, but rather an attempt to frame his former girlfriend who ended their relationship last summer. That’s right, a jilted lover stalked, harassed, and threatened his former girlfriend, and then tried to frame her by committing “hate crimes” in her name. According to Daily Mail, Thompson threatened to tell his former girlfriend’s future employers “that [she’s] a racist and homophobe.” Accusations that were sure to intimidate and harass.

Thompson’s crimes do damage to the journalistic profession he once represented and to those who faithfully do their job with integrity and honesty. But they also do damage to the cause of those who fight against the injustice of hate crimes. Sadly, and somewhat ironically, each time the acts now attributed to Thompson were reported as hate crimes it diminished the impact of real hate crimes…crimes that deserve public outrage and judicial action.




16 Responses to “Juan Thompson, Disgraced Journalist, Jilted Lover, and “Hate Crime” Counterfeiter”

  1. Rudy Romero said

    For some reason when i read this article, I immediately thought of Nellie Bly and her personal decision to be admitted to an insane asylum. She chose to go that extra mile to produce the most authentic piece of journalism she can. with integrity and honesty, Bly’s actions showed her willingness and devotion to the journalistic job, while Thompson is accused of taking short cuts, and fabricating quotes. Thompson really took things to the extreme when his life seemed to be dismantling all at once. By no means are his actions acceptable as a matter of fact they’re frowned upon. Overall he may be considered as one of the very few “bad seeds,” in the job who give journalists a bad name. Good thing this guy is finally charged with the crimes he committed.

  2. jeremy moak said

    I’m glad to see someone that is dishonest like this get what they deserve. I don’t understand why he had to call in bomb threats against Jewish centers.
    I guess anyone can become a journalist, I’m sure there are a lot of fabrications going on as mentioned in the article.

  3. Haylee Salas said

    People used to deepen on and value news, but I feel like that is just decreasing. Less and less people can trust the news now a days and this story is a perfect example of that. There was a crazy man writing news stories which makes everyone look bad even though not all journalists are. I am glad he has been arrested so we could get bad journalists off of the streets.

  4. Joshua Cordova said

    This man strays away from the professional code of ethics discussed about in the book. He is not maintaining integrity by trying to spread lies, and he also did not consider any consequences. There are consequences he is personally facing, and also how he is making the company/profession look bad. This story being published does take away from other stories about real hate crimes that should be heard about from the public, like you said.

  5. Sarah Megilligan said

    In the code of ethics, as briefly mentioned in the book “Media Essentials A Brief Introduction” by: Richard Campbell, Chris Martin, and Bertina Fabos and deeply mentioned on the SPJ website is to: seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable. It seems like Thompson does his fair share of rule breaking. Let’s start with the first rule, seeking the truth and reporting it. Thompson by his bold notion of making a half-a-dozen bomb threats to Jewish community centers and over stepping the boundaries by creating fake email accounts, phony quotes, and overall tomfoolery exemplifies the dishonor and distrust of him as a former journalist. Furthermore, this action all started with his former girlfriend ending their relationship. He tried framing her for “hate crimes” she didn’t commit. This brings me to the minimize harm aspect of the code of ethics. It is quite evident that Thompson did not set a metaphorical fire just to extinguish it; instead he set this fire to burn down his girlfriend’s accountability/ethos. This practice does not seem to minimize harm at all but rather create harm. Nevertheless this whole ordeal does take away from the other stories about true hate crimes, like you said. After this how can we possibly believe when we really are destined to take action to true hate crimes? Trusting the news really is getting harder and harder these days.

  6. Greg Wakefield said

    As a journalist, you have to get the story and report it as you see it. Ethically, it is wrong to twist the story and make it your own version. That is what Thompson did here. He lied about his identity and then lied again saying his ex-girlfriend made hate crimes. He saw the world through his eyes and any journalist would’ve reported that Thompson made hate crimes, but since he is a journalist, a corrupt one to say the least, he altered stories. It is sad to see this. This is an example of fake news, but not one like President Trump has talked about. This just goes to show that you need all the research you can and you need to validate your sources.

  7. Beau Garcia said

    A journalist job is to give the public the truth and reveal the secrets of those that try to hide it, they try to expose the truth to the world. Juan went against what journalist stand for and put his selfish agenda before his code of honor. The amount of unprofessional events that Juan had done during his time as a journalist is completely unethical and did not does not deserve to be a journalist. being selfish and writing stories that did not deserve attention over stories that needed to be brought to surface and seen by the public. Th acts of committing a hate crime just to blame it on another is ridiculous and he deserves some jail time for causing such fear and lying to the public.

  8. Raekwon Baldwin said

    Juan Thompson completely went against the ethical boundaries of journalism. He to advantage of his title as a journalist to try and hurt someone else’s career instead of seeking and reporting on actual news.

  9. Luke Hawk said

    I think the occupation of journalism is very crowded currently with too many journalists, too many articles, too many companies, etc…This makes some journalists desperate to become more well known; pushing the boundaries of the code of ethics. They start breaking rules and using creating fake news stories riddled with news values that people gravitate towards within the area or further. I don’t agree with fake news stories about hate crimes diminishing the impact of real hate crimes as said above. If anything the general public might be drawn to look further into the fake stories and realize the sad and powerful truth about real hate crimes, news, or events happening currently.

  10. Jordan Cordova said

    It is terrible to see someone that will go to these lengths to just get back at their ex, but yet in today’s society people would do anything. I do feel sorry for the “good” journalists out there because there are some “good” journalists and it’s people like Juan Thompson that disgrace not just the journalists that write the news, but the news itself. This isn’t so much as “fake” news but more of staged news in my opinion.

  11. Blake Lotter said

    Juan Thompson broke many rules that come with being a journalist. What he did unfortunately makes journalists in general look bad now. I journalist’s job is to give the truth. The fact that he lied about his sources and fabricated news to be successful contributes to the rise in public distrust of the media news outlets.

  12. Claudia Gonzales said

    This article really speaks to what the public can trust from news and it’s reporters. Along with an example of, how exaggeration, hype or comedy can be the deciding factor of our media choice. I am upset that such a reputable journalist can succumb to such a moral low. Although I am saddened, I can not say this comes as as surprise. Much like yellow journalism something as trivial as a cartoon, in the 1800s determined which news the public would decide to read. In this case it would be the fact that his rouse led to attention being drawn to hate crimes. In the pod cast it was said that the Daily’s comedy drew in a wider range of viewers but it is concerning how our motives effect so much of out literacy decisions.

  13. Greg York said

    This is just another example of how journalist have gotten away from reporting the news and tried to become the news story. Another example of the trend is what happened to Rachel Maddow on Tuesday, she received a copy of President Trump’s 2005 tax return. She started hyping the story on her twitter page. When it came time to air “the Big News story” she ended up with egg on her face and had to make preposterous accusations about his actual income and where all this money really came from. This is an example of lazy journalism and causes the entire corps of journalist to look bad. It is the responsibility of the journalistic profession to police their own and hold these two accountable for their actions.I am not equating what Maddow and Thompson did i am just pointing out the examples of what is wrong with today’s journalist.

  14. It certainly leaves a sour taste on the tip of my tongue when i come across news reports expressing the somewhat arrogance and extents people in a high regarded job go too, thinking they can take a stance of such unbelievable social hierarchy against the normal citizen. In the 21st century, i find it rather sad that we still live in a society that still posses such strong Anti-Semitic views. You would think that the resources that are around us and the extensive knowledge from professionals provides our self with enough education that we would steer clear of these vile and horrific comments made by Juan Thompson.

    Lets not get sidetracked by this story. Juan Thompson was man who thought it was socially acceptable to post “more than a half-dozen bomb threats against Jewish community centers, schools and a Jewish history museum”. I’m not that bothered that he is a journalist as i don’t regard him with the respect of being one after making such delusional and disgusting comments. He is a small minded man, that thought he could abuse the power of his job and get away with such terrible racial comments against Jewish society.

    In the book, the code of ethics plays a huge role in how a journalist should act when reporting on news and in overall general, journalism. The SPJ Code of Ethics are to be as followed: by Preamble, Seek Truth and Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently and Be Accountable and Transparent. What we can certainly conclude is that, Juan Johnson was far from following the SPJ code of ethics.

    I get the feeling that the trust in modern day society news is just being dampened and dampened by the day. Look at the current global news going on around American citizens lives this present. Whether you agree, disagree, love, hate or jibe the new presidential election, the fact is, he’s called Donald Trump. The president of the United States, the power house of the world, claims on a day to day basis that there is a lot of “fake news”.

    A question for thought, if the American President has no trust in news or provides allegations against the top global news reporters that its “totally fake” … then how can the ordinary, day to day American citizen ever believe what is being published when there own national president snubs at the likes of MSNBC, NBC News etc on a daily basis?

  15. Charles Emereuwa said

    Thompson is a real disgrace to the Journalism profession. In chapter 3 of the book, “Media Essentials: A Brief Introduction” the authors state that, “journalists are to seek the truth, hold the powerful accountable, maintain integrity, and consider the consequences of each news report, especially on people who appear in the news.” Impersonating other people, making fake e-mail accounts, and pretending to be your own editor shows no integrity. Also, to have the audacity to claim that you would bomb several Jewish places just out of spite of a girlfriend is Grade-A psychotic. Thompson discredited the entire profession of Journalism just by his acts alone, and I’m glad he got what he deserved.

  16. Tia Cyrus said

    After reading up one the Code of Ethics in Chapter 3 of “Media Essentials: A Brief Introduction”, I was quite surprised Juan Thompson was a journalist. They are told to act independently, seek the truth, and to be accountable while maintaining integrity. Everything that Thompson did was against every Code of Ethic listed in this chapter. He went after a community of people but not as himself but as his ex-girlfriend to try and sabotage her life and career. The fact that he was able to exaggerate everything and for people to believe him is insane. Just like fake news.

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