Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Reporter admits faking interviews

So, after a photojournalist gets suspended for faking ("Photoshopping") a photo, here comes a Norwegian journalist admitting he faked interviews with Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey because of financial "desperation." Whoa.

Norway reporter admits faking interviews
Source: Yahoo News

A Norwegian journalist has admitted he fabricated interviews with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and talk show host Oprah Winfrey, media reports said Monday.

Freelance writer Bjoern Benkow (photo at left taken from this site) said in a statement that the interviews, published in Norwegian and Swedish media, were partially concocted because of financial "desperation," newspaper Verdens Gang reported.

"I have met and talked to these global celebrities," Benkow was quoted as saying. "But the circumstances and times have not always been as I described."

The acknowledgment came after Microsoft Norway said last week that an interview with Gates, printed in the Norwegian magazine Mann and top-selling Swedish tabloid daily Aftonbladet, was "totally fake."

Benkow claimed he spoke to Gates (photo at right) during a two-hour commercial flight in Europe, but Microsoft Corp. officials said Gates had not been on that plane. In the four-page interview entitled "Big Bill," Gates was quoted as saying in the article that he never carries more than a "dime" in his pocket and that he makes $1 bets with his wife.

Benkow maintained that the quotes used in the article were real, but apologized for lying about when he spoke to Gates.

"What I did was done out of desperation," VG quoted Benkow as saying. "To pay the rent, electricity, food and to survive."

The editors of Mann apologized for the article last week.

Aftonbladet spokesman Olof Brundin initially said the paper was convinced the interview had occurred. On Monday, however, the newspaper published an article calling Benkow a "fraudster" who had deceived the editors.

"We have been fooled, and thereby we fooled our readers," Brundin said, adding that the newspaper was considering suing Benkow.

Aftonbladet also published Benkow's alleged interview with Winfrey (photo at left) earlier this year, but on Monday the article had been removed from the newspaper's Web site.

Bill Gates's photo taken from here and Oprah Winfrey's here.

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