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Channel 12 Reporter Apparently Duped by ASU "Professor"

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In the news business, we like to check our facts, spell names correctly -- you know, just the basics to try to keep our integrity in tact.

Well, Melissa Gonzalo, a reporter for Channel 12 news (KPNX-TV), must have missed that class at journalism school, or wherever she received her talking-head training courses.

Gonzalo did a story yesterday about the H1N1 flu virus, and how it is affecting students at Arizona universities. Check it out here.

Like any diligent reporter, Gonzalo interviewed students, medical directors, and even a professor -- well, kinda.

In the last portion of the video, aired yesterday, Gonzalo interviewed a man identified as "Professor Keivon Hobenherdar," to get the faculty perspective on the dramatic pig-flu "epidemic."

The "professor" told Gonzalo that profs are urging students to do the basics; use hand-sanitizer, don't share drinks...

What does Hobenherdar teach? Absolutely nothing.

He is actually a 20-year-old ASU junior, whom 12 News used to tell its story. (The station also misspelled his name: Keivon Hobeheidar). Full disclosure: He is the brother of

Mark Casey, news director at 12 News, shrugged the error off as a simple mistake.

"She misspelled his name, and misidentified him," Casey says. "To think that she went there with this sinister plot is laughable."

That's probably true. But her report's laughable either way.

Indeed, she could have. ASU's Web site has a faculty and student search function that would have allowed Gonzalo, in minutes, to figure out that she had actually talked to a student.

Despite his "late night," Hobeheidar is not your typical ASU party animal. He is an honors student in biological science, and is attending ASU on the prestigious Regent's High Honors Endorsement Scholarship.

"It was pretty funny; I never actually told them I was a professor," he says, but points out that after her careless assumption, he never told them he wasn't either, and just sort of rolled with it.

It seems as though Hobeheider took advantage of a lazy reporter's assumptions, and pulled off a hilarious stunt.

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