Mar 1 2009

I’m Not Rappaport…. I’m Valdez

Extra! usually complains about media outlets relying on the same sources again and again, but KTTV-TV in Los Angeles may have gone too far in the opposite direction.

Seeking a source to comment on the failed October 1989 coup against Manuel Noriega, the station called what they thought was the Panamanian consulate. In fact, it was the home of Kurt Rappaport, a 22-year old prankster. Rappaport, pretending to be an anti-Noriega Panamanian diplomat, “Arturo Valdez,” was invited to be interviewed, and showed up at the studio sporting a false moustache.

A sound bite from the 10-15 minute “Valdez” interview was broadcast on KTTV‘s evening news, phony Spanish accent and all. (LA Times, 10/7/89) But Rappaport was not treated any differently than most TV experts: “I get asked tougher questions when I go to cash a check,” he told the National Enquirer.