Robyn Rosen

The BBC, the shaggy dog story and the gas chambers

June 23, 2011 11:22

Yesterday, the BBC admitted it had “failed to make the right checks” after it irresponsibly posted a false story about a dog who was reportedly ordered to be stoned to death by a Jewish judge in Israel after a court believed it was the reincarnation of a disgruntled lawyer.

The story, one which spread like wildfire throughout the international press, was not checked by one single reporter. It was, of course, utterly false.

Yahoo ran the item as its top news story last week, attracting more than 1,900 comments, the majority of which contained antisemitic diatribe including: “Dirty Jews should be stoned instead” and “Should have let Hitler gas all of them, big noses small brains”.

It eventually removed the story, after the JC alerted them. Even the press officer, too stretched or too busy to do his job, asked to be sent the various retractions.

Despite complaints from readers who flagged the comments as offensive, its customer care team did not act and no one checked the veracity of the story.

On Wednesday, five days after it originally posted the story, the BBC admitted: “What we did not know when we wrote the story was that the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv had already published a retraction and an apology.
“We should never have written the article and apologise for any offence caused.”

Too little too late in my opinion. The Yahoo comments show how easy it is for people to turn to antisemitism. 1,900 people managed it quite comfortably.

These cases are a dangerous example of churnalism and one with frightening consequences.

June 23, 2011 11:22

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