Last week, Fox News, the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Huffington Post, Yahoo! News, MSN and the New York Post all covered a story about a dentist who took revenge on her ex-boyfriend when he arrived at her dental office for a check-up.
paris hotel casinoAccording to the news outlets, jilted Polish http://blog.excent.eu/golden-buffalo-casino/ Anna Mackowiak put her ex-boyfriend Marek Olszewski under anesthesia and then pulled out all of his teeth. He awoke with his mouth bandaged shut and didn’t realize that he was toothless until he got home and looked in a mirror.
The story included quotes from Olszewski who revealed that he was dumped by his girlfriend (the one that he had left Mackowiak for) because she couldn’t be with man without teeth.
It was a disturbing, oddly comic and just plain bizarre slice of human life. Problem was… nothing about it was true. Amazingly, the only news source to actually fact check the story was http://blog.excent.eu/casino-card-games-with-best-odds/.
They contacted the police department in Wroclaw, Poland where the incident had apparently taken place. The police had no records of the crime. Then they went to Poland’s Chamber of Physicians and Dentists which handles disciplinary matters. Again, there were no records of the case.
Turns out, the entire story can be traced back to an article in an online edition of Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. Before the article was taken down, it appeared under the byline of staff reporter Simon Tomlinson.
When MSNBC contacted Tomlinson, he said he didn’t know where the story came from either. He says that the piece originated from the Daily Mail Foreign Service which is really just a conglomeration of news agencies. And which of these agencies sent the piece? Tomlinson’s news desk has no idea.
We’ll probably never find out who slipped this piece of imaginative fiction into the news. What we have found, however, is that even the most reputable news sources can be mistaken and print outright false information. In democratic societies, journalism is a necessary mechanism for ensuring accountability of leaders and lawmakers.
Though running a false story about a vengeful dentist isn’t a threat to democracy, the lack of journalistic integrity might be. If we can’t trust our journalists to get this story right, what else can’t we trust them to report on?