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Star Tribune admits: We were fooled by phony Moss-agent email

It’s turning into a rough 24 hours for the Star Tribune in the error department.

It’s turning into a rough 24 hours for the Star Tribune in the error department.

Glen Crevier, the Strib’s assistant managing editor for sports, confirms that the paper was duped by an email hoax after the Minnesota Vikings cut wide receiver Randy Moss.

The email, allegedly from Moss’s agent, said the player was “very sad” he was cut by the team. Vikings beat writer Judd Zulgad published the claim in the Strib’s “Access Vikings” blog. However, NFL Network reporter Michael Lombardi — who broke the legitimate Moss story Monday — said agent Joel Segal is “not an email person” and “never made that statement.”

Said Crevier in an email (yes, a legit one): “Judd exchanged emails on Monday afternoon with someone alleging to be Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited. Segal is the agent for Randy Moss. We posted a blog entry with a quote from Segal. While we had no reason to believe that the email was fraudulent, we later the learned that we had been duped, and immediately removed the story from our website.”

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Adds the editor, “We should have done our due diligence to confirm the source. We, didn’t and we learned a lesson.”

The Vikings beat is a tremendously competitive one, and at least on the Moss story, national writers have aced out the locals, to the catcalls of some fans. (Depending on how you figure it, the Moss trade scoop was broken by either ESPN’s Bill Simmons or Fox’s Jay Glazer. Lombardi, a former NFL executive, works for the NFL’s authorized outlet.)

Being fast doesn’t excuse being wrong, but given how religiously web-driven reporters like yours truly use email, this is a cautionary tale.