Saturday, August 18, 2007

Nobel prize winner denies discrimination

By Libby
Updated below

Our man in Cancun, Jules Siegel, follows up on yesterday's report that Guatemalan presidential candidate Rigoberta Menchu was removed from a high priced tourist hotel because she was mistaken for a common indigenous Indian. She stated today that the reports were erroneous and she was treated as a honored guest.
Menchu and her sister Anita said none of it had happened. "This was purely an invention of the press," Anita told today in an exclusive interview. "Nothing at all happened in the hotel, and we didn't even know about the rumor until we got on the plane to go back to Mexico City."

[The reporter who broke the story], David Romero Vara of Cancun's Enfoque Radio, admitted on air today that nothing happened to Menchu, and that the only ones who were removed forcibly from the hotel were his station's reporters.

He apologized but Menchu wasn't placated. "The media should have been more careful. The press should not play with the feelings of the public, because it can cause a lot of damage," she said.

She's right and this underscores how our US media fails us today. They care more about being first than they care about correctly reporting the facts. They simply don't fact check. They wait for the blogs to do it. Meanwhile, they pick up any sensational story that they can attribute to a named source and run with it.

This made a pretty big splash in the cycle yesterday but I wouldn't have seen the correction if Jules hadn't picked it up.I bet I won't see it in the US press, unless someone makes a stink. Even then, the corrections will likely be buried and chances are the original pieces will neither be corrected or scrubbed from the internets.

The disinformation will live forever and more people will believe the lie than discover the truth. That's not only irresponsible journalism, it's dangerous, on a lot of levels.

Update: Gaius links in and agrees with my basic premise but notes that this wasn't much a story.

To clarify, by pretty big I meant big enough that I noticed it, and I'm not following politics in the Americas like I used to. I didn't say it was huge but it is illustrative of the phenonmenon. There are much bigger stories that follow the same pattern of perpetrating misinformation. For instance the false meme that O'Hanlon and Pollack are some kind liberal war dissenters has been firmly planted and remains mainly uncorrected outside of Blogtopia (y!sctp) and few people, even the bloggers who usually pick up on these things understand that the horrendous FISA modification just passed by Congress doesn't really sunset in six months.

[Thanks to Memeorandum for featuring the post]

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