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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Media Blows it! Dog Bites Man!

Did you hear about "Baby 81?"

According to the MSM (including the NY Times) a baby found after the tsunami in Sri Lanka was claimed by nine different couples. Well, guess what, the "Prestige Press" that has drummed Gannon/Guckert out of its hallowed ranks reported a story and got none - not ONE - of its facts right.

Read the whole story in LankaBusinessOnline. Here is an excerpt:

For the New York Times, it was the case of Sri Lanka's "most celebrated tsunami orphan." Networks broadcast how "nine" women fought over the baby who survived the island's worst natural disaster.

The unprecedented media attention brought more misery and heartache to a young Tamil couple who survived the December 26 tsunamis, but ended up in jail trying to get back their only son Abilash amid an avalanche of mis-reporting.

The infant dubbed "Baby 81" could have been reunited much earlier if not for the media madness, according to the judge, the police and social service officials involved in the case.

Sri Lankan courts preferred to call him "Tsunami Baby" because the "Baby 81" tag itself was in doubt.

Even the much respected New York newspaper was caught up in the flood of mis-reporting, mis-interpreting and mis-translating. The paper said his "awful burden" was not in being unwanted, but in being wanted too much.

"So far, nine couples have claimed him as their own son," the New York Times said in a story headlined: "For Tsunami Orphan, No Name but Many Parents."

But, baby 81's real burden was having too many journalists of the type of Jason Blair, the New York Times reporter who made up sensational stories and eventually was forced out of his job in 2003.

If there is a Pulitzer award for embellishing, exaggerating, and outright lying and misleading in print, the coverage of "Baby 81" would merit top billing.

District judge, M.P. Moahaidein, on Wednesday (Feb 16) made it clear that there never, repeat never, were nine couples claiming the child as their own and only Junita and Murugpillai Jeyarajah had said they were the parents.

So how did the "Baby 81" make international headlines.
It had all the ingredients of a fascinating story. A "miracle" survivor. Nine parents fighting over him. Mothers threatening suicide. DNA tests. Court drama.

All based on one "fact" -- that nine mothers were claiming the baby. How would this report make it to print without a single quote from any of the other couples claiming the child.

The New York Times said national newspapers had carried "almost daily narratives" about the baby's fate. Wrong. The national press jumped on the band wagon much later.

"The hospital has been so mobbed that for a while, the staff hid the baby in the operating theatre every night for his own protection," the Times said. Wrong again.

Click on the link above for the whole story.

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