BBC apologizes for interview with man impersonating US senator Cory Booker

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Lauren Aratani
·3 min read
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<span>Photograph: Al Drago/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Al Drago/Getty Images

The BBC has issued a correction and apology on its website for airing an interview with a man who claimed to be the US senator Cory Booker but was actually someone impersonating the Democratic politician from New Jersey.

The UK’s public broadcasting service said that the interview appeared “to be a deliberate hoax” and that it had reached out with an apology to Booker and “are looking into what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again”.

The interview was aired on 26 February on the BBC’s Newshour radio program. The BBC said that the interview “has not appeared elsewhere”, and no audio clips or videos are circulating online, though one Twitter user heard the interview on New York’s WNYC public radio station and could tell something was amiss.

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

Other listeners voiced their confusion on Twitter over the interview, which appeared to be centered around the news that the White House would not be placing sanctions on Saudi Arabia following the release of a report from US intelligence agencies that the country’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, played a direct role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Tyresse Horne, another Twitter user, tweeted to Booker saying, “did you do an interview today with the BBC discussing the Khashoggi killing? Someone sounding nothing like you and without your speech pattern was claiming to be you today.”

“I was listening to said interview & was VERY confused. I Googled to see if there was a different Cory Booker,” tweeted another user, Charles Clarkson, after learning of the BBC’s correction.

While source impersonations are uncommon in media interviews, the occasional blip can occur.

Last December, the Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo accidentally brought on air animal rights activist Matt Johnson, who pretended to be Dennis Organ, the president and CEO of the pork producer Smithfield Foods.

In 2017, the Washington Post caught a woman who falsely claimed that she was impregnated as a teenager by Roy Moore, who was running for an Alabama US Senate seat at the time.

The woman was revealed to be connected to Project Veritas, a conservative group that targets Democratic groups and major media outlets.

It is unclear whether Booker’s impersonator was a general troll or had a more deliberate agenda.

Booker has not released any public statements on the interview.

Occasionally, members of the media are the pranksters, and there was a deadly consequence in 2014 when a hospital nurse took her own life after falling for two Australian radio DJs calling up and pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles inquiring after the condition of Princess Kate, Prince William’s wife, who was a patient at the time.