Liane Membis, the former Wall Street Journal intern who seems to be our new best friend around these parts, is at it again! To recap her story thus far, Membis, who graduated Yale in May, was fired from her WSJ internship for fabricating sources in several articles, and it has been downhill from there. On a lone bright note for Membis, according to the New York Amsterdam News, she will still be representing Connecticut in the Miss Black America pageant. Additionally, the pageant’s executive producer tells the News that Membis now claims she is innocent. Oh.
Membis’ most glaring fabrication came in a WSJ article on the reopening of a pedestrian bridge in Manhattan. However, Aleta Anderson, the pageant’s EP, says, “In my conversation with her she denies the allegations … Her claim is that that’s her actual source on the bridge when she was writing the story.” Ok, that’s perfectly understandable for Membis to try and establish her innocence, although it does seem pretty farfetched that the WSJ would have messed up on such a grand scale. But, then this starts to get tricky, as Anderson goes on to say, “I don’t have any verification that her story is incorrect.”
We’ll walk you through the piles of evidence to the contrary that seem to keep piling up, but first, we’d like to highlight a quote from the Wall Street Journal, generally considered a trustworthy organization:
“Many of the names contained in the article about the re-opening of the 103rd Street Pedestrian Bridge in Manhattan were fabricated by reporting intern Liane Membis, and the quotes couldn’t be independently verified.”
That seems pretty definitive to us, but let’s continue.
There are the aforementioned WSJ articles. Membis wrote five in her short time at the paper, of which at least three have been found to be problematic. The one on the bridge has been removed entirely, and two more now appear with editor’s notes that quotes could not be verified.
Then, as Poynter brings up, there is Membis’ public admission that, in fact, she messed up. As she told the Yale Daily News, “For me, I know personally it was an honest reporting mistake that I made.” Mistake or not, here it is in print that she did it, and knows she did it.
And, as we pointed out this weekend, this is not the first time Membis has been caught making things up. In an article for a Yale magazine that was then re-published by the Huffington Post, Membis included both fake quotes by actual people and fake quotes by fake people. HuffPo has since removed the post.
We’re not saying Membis shouldn’t be allowed to represent her state in the Miss Black America pageant. But it does seem naïve at this point to think that Membis is the victim in all of this. Anderson’s final quote in the News’ piece is: “she is worthy to have written for the Wall Street Journal.” Sure, but what she leaves out is that she was also apparently worthy of them firing her too.