Here’s a scary little story. Last Friday, around 10:30 a.m., the doorbell rang at the Montclair home of Montclair journalist Eric Boehlert, and a guy in a Verizon uniform with clipboard asked if he would answer some questions for a survey. Boehlert thought it was legit and played along until all of a sudden the guy asked a question that didn’t make sense.
“The gotcha question was, ‘You have this cooshy job, but you’re writing about the 99 percent,'” Boehlert says. Immediately, Boehlert, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, thought of James O’Keefe, a right-leaning blogger who has tried to embarrass journalists on video in his “To Catch a Journalist” series.
“When he asked his gotcha question, I’m sure there was an extended pause on my part,” Boehlert says. But then he tried to see if he could find a license plate to read and wound up chasing the fake Verizon worker into the street: “It ended up with him sprinting down Montclair Ave.”
Verizon confirmed that it didn’t have any employees at his door, and said it never does surveys in person anyway, and Boehlert reported the incident to the Monclair police. He doesn’t think the impostor had a hidden camera, either. “My hunch is if there was video, it would be posted by now.”
Nevertheless, it is — as Boehlert says — “slightly creepy.”
“I’m not sure what the payoff would have been,” he says. “But sadly this is the direction right-wing guerrilla media has gone.”