Sunday , September 19 2021

BBC Apologizes for Interview With Cory Booker Impostor

The BBC has issued an apology and started an investigation after airing an interview with a man who posed as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

The network said in a statement that the unidentified man was interviewed on the “Newshour” radio program last Friday, adding that the appearance appeared to have been a “deliberate hoax.”

The statement said that the BBC had apologized to Mr. Booker and that the company was looking into “what went wrong” to ensure it does not happen again.

The interview aired once, live at 3 p.m. Eastern and mostly in the U.S. and a handful of other places around the world, a spokesman for the BBC said on Thursday. A second edition of “Newshour,” which airs at 4 p.m., was also broadcast in the U.S. and around the world, but without the interview, he said.

Mr. Booker’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

The BBC spokesman confirmed an on-air apology was made in the “Newshour” program on Monday, but declined to comment when asked how the man was booked for the show and if the company had been in contact with him since.

When the interview aired last week, several listeners tweeted their concerns about the show, featuring the impostor discussing the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

“Listening to the @bbcworldservice Newshour on @wnyc and trying to figure out how they did an entire interview with someone they introduced as Sen. Cory Booker, who I’m pretty sure was definitely not Sen. Booker, and didn’t realize it,” said one woman.

At least one other person responded directly to the BBC on Twitter saying, “I’m not sure who the BBC World Service just interviewed on Newshour about US relations with Saudi Arabia, but it definitely was not Senator Cory Booker.”

Another woman tweeted at Mr. Booker on Friday asking if the lawmaker appeared on the program. “Someone sounding nothing like you and without your speech pattern was claiming to be you today,” she said.

Mr. Booker, a Democrat, is no stranger to the topic the impostor spoke about. In 2019 he voted in support of resolutions disapproving arm sales to Saudi Arabia. The year before, Mr. Booker called the death of Mr. Khashoggi “appalling” and said he joined colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee to seek sanctions against anyone involved in the “horrific” act.

Stories of pranksters and impersonators finagling their way into news programs is not uncommon.

Last December, an animal-rights activist pretending to be the chief executive of Smithfield Foods conducted an interview with Maria Bartiromo, the host of the Fox Business show “Mornings With Maria.” At the end of the broadcast, Ms. Bartiromo issued a public correction saying, “It appears we have been punked.”



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