Marketplace, KQED explain how fabricated commentary got on the air

KQED, a public radio station based in San Francisco, has for 13 years been publishing first person commentaries under the Perspectives banner. The NPR member station airs roughly 250 Perspectives a year, and KQED communications director Scott Walton said this week marks the first time they’ve ever had to retract one.

As detailed in my previous post, a Perspectives commentary that aired on KQED January 11 — and subsequently was re-aired by American Public Media’s Marketplace on Monday — turned out to have included fraudulent claims. The man in question, Leo Webb, said he was a former Army sniper with 17 kills, and a former minor league pitcher to boot. Neither KQED nor Marketplace were able to confirm those details after suspicion was raised by comments on both of their sites and by at least two blogs.

Walton said efforts to locate Webb have been unsuccessful thus far. Perspectives editor Mark Trautwein previously told the blog “This Ain’t Hell” that “Mr. Read more


‘Marketplace’ retracts commentary from man who claimed to be an Army sniper, baseball player

American Public Media’s “Marketplace” program has retracted a commentary it aired this week from a man who’s been camping out at Occupy Oakland and claimed to be an ex-Army sniper.

Leo Webb’s commentary, “Returning veteran has few marketable skills,” said he had 17 confirmed kills in Iraq and was once a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs Double A club. (The post was tagged with the phrase “My Life Is True.”) Neither his Army service nor his claim about the Cubs was true. Here’s the editor’s note now posted to the site:

Editor’s Note: A commentary by Leo Webb, ”Returning veteran has few marketable skills,” prompted questions from listeners about Webb’s account of his service as an Army sniper in Iraq. A subsequent investigation found that the Army has no record of Webb. Webb also said he pitched for a Chicago Cubs minor-league team. Inquiries to the Cubs and to Minor League Baseball found no record of Webb. 

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