Revealing what appears to have been an example of global journalistic malpractice — and misogyny — involving some of the world’s most esteemed mainstream news outlets, msnbc.com reported Tuesday that its own basic investigation into the “teeth-pulling ex-girlfriend” story has revealed the story was a hoax.
Apparently, Britain’s Daily Male first printed the story without bothering to perform even cursory fact-checking; regardless, the story was picked up and circulated by Fox News, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Yahoo! News, MSN, the New York Post, and The New York Daily News and Australia’s Herald Sun and New Zealand Herald among others.
when msnbc.com contacted police in Wroclaw, Poland, about the supposed criminal case, a spokesman said they had no record of such an incident.
“Lower Silesia Police Department has not been notified about such an event and is not investigating such a case,” Pawel Petrykowski of the Provincial Police Headquarters in Wroclaw said in an email that was translated into English.
A legal adviser for Poland’s Chamber of Physicians and Dentists, which handles disciplinary matters, said the organization is not investigating and has never investigated any such case, and added that there is no dental practitioner named Anna Maćkowiak listed in Poland’s central register of dentists.
“No information about this kind of misconduct has been provided to the Supreme Chamber,” the legal advisor, Marek Szewczyński, said in an email. “The Supreme Chamber is also not aware of any actions of this kind being taken by the Regional Chamber of Physicians and Dentists in Wroclaw, which would be the competent authority in case of a possible professional misconduct committed by a dental practitioner from Wroclaw.”
The American Dental Association’s national spokesperson, David Johnson Jr., said the story of Maćkowiak’s revenge was highly improbable — not just as an unprecedented abuse of the doctor-patient relationship but because most dentists are equipped to administer drugs only for conscious sedation dentistry. That would mean the ex-boyfriend would know his teeth were being extracted as it was happening, rather than realizing it after he arrived home.
Why wasn’t this most cursory of fact checking and referencing performed before the story was printed? Well, when asked that very question, the Daily Male staff writer under whose byline the story was originally written, Simon Tomlinson, said
he does not know where the story came from and distanced himself from it when questioned about its origins. “I’ve drawn a bit of a blank,” he said in an email. “The (Daily) Mail Foreign Service, which did the piece for the paper, is really just an umbrella term for copy put together from agencies. My news desk isn’t sure where exactly it came from.”
This, after the story was shared more than 75,000 times on Facebook since it was first published on April 27, and after having spawned thousands of misogynistic comments on online news sites none of which have been removed, although most of the online news sources who reported this story have since issued retractions. Gee, how civil of them.
Interestingly enough, the link to the original story at the Daily Male is now a dead link: they have removed the article entirely rather than print a retraction in the header and leaving the article — and comments — intact, like the other outlets did. Comments like this from Huff Po:
More-so if I was the judge I would make it a condition of her parole or probation that she must have all of her teeth removed. As well as consficate (sic) ever last thing she owned to pay his multimillion lawsuit and her license removed.
The tone of this article is massively inappropriate. To imply sympathy with this kind of behavior strikes me as incredibly misandric and offensive as a man. If a male dentist had done this you would be rightfully indignant. Have some class Huffington Post.
That last part made me laugh and laugh. The tone of the article wasn’t sympathetic enough to the man: the fake, hypothetical man to whom this never happened wasn’t treated kindly enough by Huff Po, demonstrating misandry. And if the sexes were reversed, the result would have been different.
Indeed, the result probably would have been different: in reality, if a male dentist had allegedly abused a woman this way, it might not have been reported at all. What news outlet has either the space or a single crap to give to reporting on every egregious abuse, breach of professional ethics, act of sexual violence or human rights violation men perpetrate on women every day? It never would’ve been reported at all, and would never have had the chance to be picked up and circulated globally.
Even if it were true, it never even would have been reported, let alone circulated globally. Because there is too much male violence against women to even report. See how that works?
And of course, if the sexes were reversed, it would have been assumed from the beginning to be a hoax. If after being fact-checked thoroughly the story checked out and it wasn’t technically a hoax of the journalistic kind, it would’ve still been scrutinized and assumed to be a hoax of the lying-bitch kind, perpetrated by the woman herself, who would have been assumed to have been lying about all of it, including who had done that to her, under what circumstances, and why.
In reality, Huff Po — and the entire global mainstream news industry — demonstrates egregious misogyny here, not misandry, not to mention revealing for the entire world to see that its journalistic ethics are of the bankrupt kind: without demonstrating even the most basic care regarding whether this story was even true, it printed it anyway, and let the entire world believe that a woman had terribly abused a man in a way that was sure to draw the most vile woman-hatred imaginable, and condemnation of women as a sexual class.
In fact, one is left with the impression that this was the goal the entire time. If it wasn’t “intentional-intentional,” the result — a global orgy of misogynistic woman-bashing and condemnation of women as a sexual class — was foreseeable enough that intent can and should be presumed.
This was intentional. Which is to be expected, of course, considering that mainstream news reporting is, in actuality, the thinnest of covers for a global misogynistic pro-patriarchal propaganda machine.
If the world were a safe and sane place for women, the global news industry would never recover its credibility after this, but of course it’s not, and it will. Because credible and male are synonyms, you see. The global, male-centric mainstream news industry’s “credibility” was never lost and it never will be, any more than an apple can lose its appleness, or a tangerine can cease being tangerine-y. They will recover. But we mustn’t ever forget what we are dealing with, when it comes to the global media, and its treatment of us.
As if most of us even could.
Also reported at Radfem-ological Images.