Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert Targeted In Bungled ‘Verizon’ Sting
I’m getting a distinct whiff of James O’Keefe from this story:
It was the middle of the day on Friday, and Eric Boehlert heard a knock on the door. A senior fellow at Media Matters, a nonprofit watchdog that challenges conservative news outlets, Boehlert works from his Montclair, N.J., home.
A short, bearded man stood outside, holding a clipboard and wearing a Verizon uniform. He asked Boehlert if he’d be willing to take a customer survey. Verizon had, perhaps coincidentally, been at the house a week earlier to handle a downed wire. Boehlert quickly agreed and noted that a Verizon worker had actually failed to show up when he said he would.
But as the survey went on, it started getting strange. “The only weird part before he got to his final question was he started telling me, ‘Oh, you know, it’s really tough out there, the economy, and I’m just happy to have a job,’ and stuff like that, which I thought was weird for a customer rep to be telling one of his customers,” Boehlert recalled to HuffPost.
“So he gets to the last questions, and he’s really reading intently off of his clipboard, and he says something about making the kind of salary I do, working from home, something something about the 99 percenters,” Boehlert said. …
“So there was this pause, and I said, ‘You work for Verizon?’ And he just sort of looks back at me and [says], ‘Will you answer the question? Will you answer the question?’ And I said, ‘Can I see your Verizon ID?’ And he wouldn’t produce any Verizon ID, and I think he asked me another time to answer the question. And basically I just said, ‘I’m done so you can leave now.’”
The man started to walk off.
Boehlert decided to follow him to obtain his license plate number. By now he had realized that the man was likely pulling a political stunt, and James O’Keefe’s notorious “To Catch a Journalist” project came to mind as a possibility.
“The only sort of comical part was he forget which way he was supposed to run in case I started following. He ended up sort of in the road, and he sort of turned left and then right,” said Boehlert. “The last I saw him he was in a full sprint down my street running away from my house.”
Boehlert then called the Montclair cops to report the incident. He also rang up Verizon.
Lee Gierczynski, a spokesman for Verizon, told HuffPost that whatever the man was doing, he wasn’t a Verizon customer service representative. “Security determined that Verizon had no door-to-door sales people in that area. There were no Verizon employees in that area,” he said, adding that Verizon “does not send out employees to conduct consumer surveys door to door.”
Gierczynski said the company forwarded the information to local police. The Montclair police department didn’t return calls requesting comment.