''Ain't It Cool News'' controversy -- The movie-gossip site's Harry Knowles is lambasted for a ''Star Wars'' scoop

By Jeff Jensen
Updated June 23, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Are infotainment junkies souring on Harry Knowles, the self-proclaimed ”Father Geek” behind movie-gossip site Ain’t It Cool News (aint-it-cool-news.com)? Knowles’ own message boards lambasted him over — get this — journalistic ethics in response to an alleged Star Wars: Episode II scoop posted June 4. His report, prefaced by a disclaimer that his source was new and untested, included the claim that Gabriel Byrne had been cast as a Jedi; not only did many readers find the ”news” dubious, but some accused Knowles of cribbing the rumor from Star Wars fan sites — or even just plain making it up. Said one visitor to ad-supported AICN: ”Whether [AICN was] actually fooled by it, or just posted it because anything Star Wars gets hits, it’s a complete waste of server space.” A much angrier rant read: ”A— — hole, we’re putting food on YOUR table by coming here.” Knowles denies stealing or lying, saying that a recent surge in juicy Star Wars rumors has made it difficult to separate the bona fide from the bunk. With negotiations for a big financing deal in the works, is Harry feeling pressure? ”Not really,” he says. ”If I don’t have stories for a day, I don’t have stories for a day.” Still, change may be afoot: In a massive June 7 post responding to criticisms of his scoop-gathering methods by Patrick Sauriol of rival site Coming Attractions (corona.bc.ca/films), Knowles proposed a summit meeting to hammer out a common code of conduct, Citizen Kane-style. As they used to say in old media: Stay tuned.