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A News and Politics Blog, With a Smattering of Sports

Friday, July 21, 2006

11:13 AM: 
It seems that Doug Thompson is at it again.


As a refresher, back in 2003 I wrote this article which detailed how Thompson and Capitol Hill Blue had relied on a non-existant person for some slanderous quotations about President Bush.


Now, Eric Scheie (here and here) and Clayton Cramer (here and here) are detailing something that is deja vu all over again. Go and read their posts now.


Clayton points out that CHB is now admitting that this other Bush basher does not exist (which is remarkably similar to the pullback they did on Wilkinson).



In 1998, our former editor, Jack Sharp, began receiving a regular, almost daily, email "newsletter" from a "Professor George Harleigh" offering quotes, observations and commentary on current political events along with permission to use those comments as we saw fit. "Professor Harleigh" claimed to be a retired political science professor from Southern Illinois University and offered, as backup, links to a number of web sites and news publications that quoted him or used material furnished by him. We checked the web sites and other news publications and found him quoted often so we began using his material in selected stories. Since 1998, we have used quotes from "George Harleigh" in 83 stories on our web site.


Recently, we received an inquiry from Southern Illinois University saying they were trying to locate the "George Harleigh" who claimed to have taught at their institution but said they did not have any record of a "George Harleigh" or even a "Harleigh" ever teaching at the university's campuses in Carbondale or Edwardsville, Illinois. That inquiry led us to investigate further. We talked with other web sites that have used quotes from the same source and all, like us, received the quotes in an email newsletter format. The newsletter email currently traced back to a qmail account. We also posted inquiries on bulletin boards and other blogs. When we received today's newsletter we immediately mailed back and asked for additional information. We did not receive an answer and followup emails bounced back as undeliverable.




At this point, I do not think it is prudent or wise to take CHB at face value on anything they say or claim. To wit:


CHB says : [Harleigh] "claimed to be a retired political science professor from Southern Illinois University and offered, as backup, links to a number of web sites and news publications that quoted him or used material furnished by him."


I think CHB should provide the contents of this email, so that outside sources can see which websites and news publications were checked. If such websites exist, they should be notified of the fraud. I suspect there was no such diligence conducted by CHB, however.


CHB says : "Recently, we received an inquiry from Southern Illinois University saying they were trying to locate the "George Harleigh" who claimed to have taught at their institution"


I think CHB should specify from who at SIU this inquiry came. I suspect that no such inquiry was made, but instead it was pressure coming from Clayton, Eric, and others.


CHB says : "We also posted inquiries on bulletin boards and other blogs."


I think that CHB should provide URLs to these bulletin boards and other blogs to document their seemingly public efforts to verify Harleigh. I suspect that no bulletin board or blog postings were made.


CHB says they were receiving these newsletters frequently, including yesterday. They should provide a copy of as many of these newsletters as they have available, including the full mail headers (which can be used to determine the actual originating IP address and could lead to the revelation of the fraudster-- if he wasn't made up in full cloth).


I freely admit that my suspicions may be off base, but believe I have good reason for them. I also suspect that the substantiation of the claims in the pullback that I requested above will never be forthcoming. I hope on that I am wrong; the emailed newsletters with full headers would be particularly useful in tracing the roots of this latest fraud. Unless the fraud started and ended at CHB, in which case the newsletters could never be produced.