A Star-Ledger sportswriter who falsely tweeted that Gov. Phil Murphy will close high schools for two months starting around Thanksgiving is facing sharp criticism from the Murphy administration.
At 11:28 AM, Adam Zagoria said he had a source that Murphy “will announce in the coming days that all schools will close from Nov. 23-Jan. 23.”
“I’m told this applies to high schools not colleges,” Zagoria added in a tweet three minutes later.
Zagoria’s reporting, quickly refuted by Murphy aides.
“False,” tweeted Mahen Gunaratna, Murphy’s communications director. “Please don’t spread rumors like this – it benefits no one.”
Dan Bryan, a senior advisor to the governor, said that Zagoria’s reporting has set off alarms across the state.
“This is irresponsible journalism. If he had checked in with the Governor’s office for confirmation before blasting out this false statement, we could have avoided setting off an ill-informed panic,” said Bryan, who asked Zagoria (have received seven phone calls so far). Delete this and do better next time.
Zagoria covers Seton Hall and New Jersey college basketball for NJ Advance Media as a freelancer, according to their website. He did not immediately return a 12:26 PM email or a 12:39 PM text message seeking comment.
Kevin Whitmer, the senior vice president for Content, Expansion and Development at NJ Advance Media, did not immediately respond to a 12:16 PM message seeking comment.
Update: At 1:43 PM, Zagoria backed off his reporting. “I deleted my earlier Tweets regarding NJ Gov Murphy and school closings after further reporting showed they were premature,” he wrote.