Having not heard from the Star-Tribune reporter, Suzanne Ziegler, I e-mailed an editor at the Star-Tribune and asked if this was standard operating procedure. An hour later Ziegler responded via email, saying:
"A colleague at the Star Tribune who knew I was working on a Cash for Clunkers story e-mailed me, saying he tried to get a Jeep Liberty or Compass at Coon Rapids Chrysler Jeep but was told they were out of them. I called the dealership and was put through to Brian Zins. As I always do, I identified myself as being with the Star Tribune and said I was working on a story about the program. I explained that an editor here had been unable to get the Liberty and Compass and asked him if that was the case. I then proceeded to interview him about the fact that they were out of the cars and about the program itself."
Essentially, she's calling Zinny a liar. I forwarded the email to Brian, who said, "It went down exactly as I told you. She never said she was a reporter, and she never said she was working on a story."
Obviously one of these people is not telling the truth about the conversation. So I'll leave it up to you to decide who has the most reason to lie in this "he said/she said" case: Zinny, who took an unsolicited phone call and would not even have told me the story if I hadn't contacted him, or a reporter accused of violating journalistic ethics?