WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb 27 (DPI) – A recent Youtube video of a naked man stuck outside his hotel room got dismissed as a staged production by most online posters, but that didn’t stop media outlets — Huffington Post and local television stations, among others — from airing it and palming it off as a real incident.
Even as television news shows replayed the video, comment boards on Youtube and HuffPo were quick to point out that the video – which in a week gained more than one million views on Youtube – was clearly staged and made to appear as a real event recorded by hotel security cameras.
Hoaxes are not new, nor is lazy reporting by news organizations. But with so few fact-checkers and verifiers left to review the accuracy and legitimacy of content today, more and more staged events are being presented as fact, many now recognize.
Granted, a harmless video that “anybody who has ever stayed at a hotel could relate to”, as one poster said, isn’t quite the same as brazen manipulation of the press for business or political purposes. As one poster put it: “If it’s entertaining people don’t care if it’s true or not.”
Still, the problem remains serious, especially when a news presenter willingly goes along with something he or she knows or suspects is fiction. That recalls the 2005-6 incident in which Oprah Winfrey promoted the James Frey book “A Million Little Pieces.” Upon learning much of the narrative was invented, Winfrey at first suggested it didn’t matter whether the story was fact or fiction. Wikipedia recounts the incident:
Winfrey “apologized for her previous telephoned statement to Larry King Live — during Frey’s appearance on that show on January 11, 2006 — that what mattered was not the truth of Frey’s book, but its value as a therapeutic tool for addicts. She said, “I left the impression that the truth is not important.” –Wikipedia
Huffington Post, to its small credit, included a poll on its site asking “Is the naked hotel guest video a stunt?” More than 44% said yes, and 27.5% said they didn’t know.