Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at

Articles by Catherine

You could call it the year of the "too good to check" story: a blockbuster article in Rolling Stone magazine on a brutal alleged gang rape fell apart a couple weeks after it sparked national outrage, and a New York Magazine story on a teen rumored to have made $72 million on the stock market was debunked in little more than a day.

Alternatively, you could call it the year of the conspiracy theory. CNN spent weeks airing roundtable discussions with everyone from ex-pilots to psychics speculating on where a jetliner that disappeared over the Pacific Ocean may have ended up (a black hole? North Korea?), while some renowned journalists openly questioned whether videos showing Americans being beheaded in the Middle East were staged in a Hollywood studio.

But journalists' screw-ups weren't limited to just bad fact-checking and embarrassingly wild speculation. Here are the worst media fails of 2014.

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The past year brought out the worst in professional sports players, owners, and fans alike, from domestic violence scandals in the NFL to the removal of racist team executives in the NBA.

Of course, shockingly bad behavior wasn’t limited to major league football and basketball alone. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, was just sentenced to probation for drunken driving. FIFA was enough of a mess to inspire a 13-minute Jon Oliver segment ahead of the World Cup this summer.

But even the most casual sports observer understands what’s at the center of the Washington Redskins naming controversy, or can form an opinion on whether Ray Rice should be allowed to play football again. The NFL frequently surfaced in the headlines this year for all the wrong reasons, and its domination on this list suggests the league needs to get its act together on a couple fronts.

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