Seth Mnookin and Jane Roberts Lied That She Talked to Dad Joe Lindenberger

MIT News

He’s back folks. Eight years ago, pathologically lying “journalist” Seth Mnookin stepped into the vaccine issue by claiming he was just a concerned, new parent. After two months, Autism Investigated’s future editor revealed that his uncle was a longtime professional colleague of vaccine front group president Alison Singer‘s mother-in-law. Mnookin has since returned to invent the Ethan Lindenberger hoax of a teen who lied that he got vaccinated against his parents’ wishes when the father Joe Lindenberger was pulling the strings all along. Mnookin even lied while interviewing the author of the original hoax story that she talked to the dad in the article when she never did, to which she replied in agreement. Autism Investigated reached out to Mnookin for this article and received no response as expected, as was also the case with the hoax story’s author.

For most of Autism Investigated’s existence, there has been relatively little from Mnookin. After Donald Trump was elected president, Mnookin returned to write a hit-piece against Robert F. Kennedy Jr. because of his meeting with then-President-Elect Trump. In the since-closed comment thread, Autism Investigated did a point-by-point rebuttal of Mnookin’s entire article.

Yet Mnookin, if anyone could imagine, was christened Professor of Comparative Media Studies and Writing at MIT later that same year in 2017. And now, the MIT brand is directly connected to Mnookin’s lies. The Ethan Lindenberger hoax first appeared in a February issue of Undark Magazine, an MIT publication. Its deputy editor and “head fact-checker” is Jane Roberts, the named author of the Lindenberger story. She wouldn’t respond to Autism Investigated’s recent questioning about whether she interviewed Ethan Lindenberger’s father.

Three weeks after her article ran, however, she did a long podcast interview for none other than Seth Mnookin, who also hosts the Undark podcast. Like Roberts, Mnookin took Ethan Lindenberger’s lie that his father is anti-vaccine at the teen’s word and even falsely included the father as one of the people who Roberts talked to in the story:

And so in this story, you talk to Ethan, who is 18, from Ohio, his mom and, it sounds like, his dad, to a lesser extent, didn’t want to have him vaccinated, and he’s decided on his own, when he was 18, to go ahead and do that.

Roberts replied affirmatively, “Yeah.”

Despite saying she interviewed the father and that he’s anti-vaccine, there is nothing from Jane Roberts’ article to indicate that she ever spoke to the father. Mnookin wouldn’t respond when Autism Investigated reached out to him:

I don’t expect an honest answer from you, but reaching out to subjects for stories is a basic component of journalism as you should know. The author of the Ethan Lindenberger piece Jane Roberts won’t respond to my simple question of whether she communicated with the dad (email below). Why didn’t you ask her if she had any communication with him in your podcast interview of her? Why aren’t you interested in getting the dad’s actual opinion of vaccines instead of relying solely on the word of his teenage son as you and she have both done?

Jake Crosby

The publisher of the Undark Magazine Jane Roberts edits is also a staffer of the MIT program Seth Mnookin now directs. That makes him Jane Roberts’ boss’ boss.

According to MIT News four months before Lindenberger’s 2018 Reddit post that claimed his parents were against vaccines:

Mnookin has also been collaborating with Deborah Blum, director of MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program, to find ways for the two programs to work together. Each year, four students from the graduate program work as editorial interns for Undark, a magazine Blum runs out of the Knight program. The students also write profiles of all Knight fellows each year as a way for the two groups to get to know each other.

The two programs found a big way to work together in cooking up the hoax that has become the Lindenberger Nothingburger.

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2 Thoughts on “Seth Mnookin and Jane Roberts Lied That She Talked to Dad Joe Lindenberger

  1. MICHAEL on June 22, 2019 at 3:02 pm said:

    New Journalism standards for citations, sources and references in the era of fake news: Seth Mnookin cites Jane Roberts cites Seth Mnookin cites Jane Roberts cites Seth Mnookin.

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