NY Daily News & Other Sites Publish False Neo-Nazis Patrolling Sanford Story
It appears that simple fact checking isn't part of the reporting process at the New York Daily News. Even worse, the story that they declined to fact check was about an explosive situation in Sanford, Florida where supposedly neo-nazis were patrolling the streets in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
The Daily News finally revised their story but only after being contacted by professor William Jacobson of the Legal Insurrection blog who did the fact checking for them with the Sanford police that they should have done in the first place. Here is the Daily News excerpt below the fold that was published before being forced to revise it by the Legal Insurrection fact check:
The Trayvon Martin case is getting even more heated as armed neo-Nazis are reportedly patrolling the streets of Sanford, Fla.-where the black, unarmed teen was shot and killed.
A representative for the Detroit-based National Socialist movement told the Miami New Times that his group of roughly 10 to 20 volunteers aren’t there to start trouble, but are prepared to protect the “white citizens in the area” in the event of race riots.
So the New York Daily News bases its story on a Miami New Times article which didn't bother to check to find out if neo-nazis were actually patrolling in Sanford which they weren't. Here is the Miami New Times excerpt which the Daily News blindly accepted originally as the gospel truth.
Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are "prepared" for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect "white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety" in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement.
After the Daily News published the false Sanford story, Jacobson of Legal Insurrection finally contacted them and the story was revised...but not before the damage was done since this incendiary false report went viral on the web. Here is the fact check report by Jacobson:
Did anyone bother to contact the Sanford Police? I did, and the Sanford Police deny any indication of Neo-Nazi groups patrolling in Sanford. Here’s the e-mail exchange:
My initial e-mail (which included an embedded link to the Memeorandum thread):
“There are a number of reports in the media that Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in Sanford. Can you confirm or deny whether this is true, and provide any information you have on the subject? If someone is able to get back to me as soon as possible (and before Monday) that would be appreciated, since such rumors are spreading.”
Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups.”
My follow up:
“You say “not confirmed.” Is there any indication of such patrols that the Department is aware of?”
Further Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.”
I can’t say this is the worst example of rumor mongering and irresponsible conduct by bloggers and the mainstream media I have ever seen, but it’s a contender.
For The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Mediaite, and The Daily News to spread such thinly-sourced claims without verification at a time when racial tensions already are high is irresponsible in the extreme.
And I hope that in the future we are spared pious MSM lectures about their "credibility" since this is but the latest example of a blog doing the fact checking they should have done but neglected to do with disastrous results.