Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Media Falsehood Hall of Fame

Randall Hoven, writing at the irreplaceable American Thinker, offers a fascinating list of the top media fabrications of all-time. The top ten?

1. ABC, Food Lion story (1992). Fraudulent techniques and probable fabrication. Two ABC producers lied on their resumes to get jobs at Food Lion. They each wore a wig hiding a tiny lipstick-sized camera, and each carried a concealed microphone. It's possible they shot footage of mishandled food by doing the mishandling themselves. Food Lion sued ABC and a jury awarded it $5.5 million.

2. ABC 20/20 "Exploding Fords" story (1978). Staged footage. Similar to the later NBC "exploding" GM trucks episode, ABC aired "grossly misleading crash videos and simulations, withheld the same sorts of material facts about the tests, and relied on the same dubious experts with the same ties to the plaintiffs bar... viewers were shown a crash fire and explosion without being told it had been started by an incendiary device."

3. ABC 20/20, "Buckwheat" (of the Little Rascals) story. (1990). Fell for hoax. "In 1990 the ABC program 20/20 was hoaxed into believing that Billy "Buckwheat" Thomas was alive and working as a grocery bagger in Tempe, Arizona. (Thomas actually died in 1980.) A segment broadcast October 5 with narrator Hugh Downs featured an impostor."

4. AFP/Yahoo News  (2007). Fell for hoax/lie. Ran a picture with the caption "An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City." But the picture was of unfired cartridges, which could only have "hit her house" if they were thrown at it.

5. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press (2005). Lying/fabricating. In his sports column, he described alumni players at a basketball game who were not even there.

6. Stephen Ambrose, historian/author (2002). Plagiarism. He was almost a book "factory", writing eight books in five years. But that apparently came easier when parts were copied from other books, without attribution.

7. Pham Xuan An, Time (1960's). Communist spy reporter. Pham Xuan An was a "Viet Cong colonel who worked as a reporter for U.S. news organizations during the Vietnam War while also spying for the communists... He was the first Vietnamese to be a full-time staff correspondent for a major U.S. publication, working primarily for Time magazine... his job as a spy was to uncover and report the plans of the South Vietnamese and U.S. military... he was considered the best Vietnamese reporter in the press corps." He died in Viet Nam in 2006, where he had been "promoted to major general and was named a Hero of the People's Armed Forces, with four military-exploit medals."

8. Peter Arnett, CNN, NBC, National Geographic (1999-2003). Lying, bias, treasonous behavior. CNN fired him in 1999 for his reporting the Operation Tailwind story (see below). NBC and National Geographic fired him in March 2003 for being interviewed on Iraqi TV during war, in which he stated that the U.S. war plan had failed. "It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview to state-controlled Iraqi TV, especially at a time of war," said NBC.

9. Associated Press (AP) (2005). Fell for hoax and phony photo. The AP ran a story, with a photo, about a soldier held hostage in Iraq. The photo turned out to be that of an action figure doll; there was no such soldier.

10. Doug Bandow, columnist (2005). Failure to disclose potential conflict of interest. "The Copley News Service revealed it had suspended syndicated columnist Doug Bandow for allegedly accepting payments from Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff to write positive stories about Abramoff's clients." Bandow said, "It was a lapse of judgment on my part, and I take full responsibility for it."

Read it all.

Hoven's headline -- Media Dishonesty Matters -- is perfect.

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