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Debat Debate Continues

debatb1030.jpgSources tell TVNewser the Alexis Debat affair at ABC News is not over yet, at least in some ABC News corners. At issue: whether the second internal investigation into the former ABC News consultant should have been headed up by someone other than ABC’s SVP for editorial quality, Kerry Smith. Sources tell me the internal concerns might have been subsided if ABC News had launched an investigation headed up by someone without ties to the network.

It’s a question we put to ABC News VP of media relations, Jeffrey Schneider. His response: “Kerry Smith was and is the correct person to look into questions regarding Alexis Debat and the work he did at ABC News,” Schneider tells TVNewser. “It was Smith’s initial investigation in June that confirmed that Debat had lied about a PhD at which point Smith demanded and got Debat’s resignation.”

Please click continued to read the full statement from Schneider…


Kerry Smith was and is the correct person to look into questions regarding Alexis Debat and the work he did at ABC News. As Senior Vice President of Editorial Quality for ABC News, Smith investigates questions arising from ABC News’ reporting and practices. It was Smith’s initial investigation in June that confirmed that Debat had lied about a PhD at which point Smith demanded and got Debat’s resignation. As ABC News made clear from the very moment in September that questions arose about Debat’s faked interviews for the French publication Politique International, ABC News simply wanted to get to the very bottom of this matter — whatever the outcome. We felt we owed it to our viewers and ourselves to dig as deep as we could to understand exactly what Debat reported at ABC News, who his confidential sources were and if his reporting and those sources held up to the most rigorous scrutiny. In the end we found 4 errors of fact in Debat’s work none of which materially impacted the reports in question. We also confirmed that Debat’s sources were who he claimed. Smith also recommended changes to our practices involving the vetting and hiring of consultants, how we identify consultants on -air and and under what circumstances we use consultants at ABC News. We have implemented each of her recommendations.

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