In the wild, wild west of the internet, the rule of thumb is to double check every doggone story written. First make sure the source is legit, above and beyond anything else, and then check again to be sure that what is on the screen is as true as possible without wholesale copying someone else’s work. Well, this week, it seems that the reporters and editors of “legitimate news” outlet CNN did not exactly do that and media critic Brian Stelter retweeted an internet hoax as if it were real news, or at least without an explanation of what the item was.
Adam Saleh, a youtube video personality with over a million followers, boarded a Delta flight from London to New York and CLAIMED on a youtube video that he was kicked off the flight simply for speaking Arabic to his mother on the phone. Naturally, in no time at all, the story was all over the internet making headlines, and getting feedback from the public.
One minor problem with that story and narrative: that’s not the way it happened, at least not according to fellow passengers on the plane who later took to open board social media platforms to tell a version of the truth that bears no resemblance to the video claims.
One fellow passenger, Roderick Edens posted this on Reddit (Thanks to UK Daily Mail):
And then there was this from another passenger of Jamaican-British decent calling himself Anthony:
And yet this is what Adam Saleh sent out to the world:
Sweet guy, huh.
The backlash to Delta Airlines was swift and highly judgmental. The damage done to the Delta brand was pretty immediate. Real people working for the airline who were just doing their jobs will be hurt now despite the retraction attempts and in the future because a youtube personality played a prank on the world and “legitimate news” outlets like CNN reported it as a news story without doing due diligence on Adam Saleh. For this egregious omission, Tucker Carlson had something to say on his show Thursday evening:
Yes, it is true. Just about everyone these days carries around a mini-computer with which we all have access to most of the world’s information. Rather than look up the things we really need to know – like who is this guy claiming Delta Airlines kicked him off of a flight for speaking Arabic to his mother on the phone – we use these mini-computers to argue with strangers and look at pictures of grumpy cats. Tucker Carlson has a point. Brian Stelter of CNN was negligent in being sure he wasn’t perpetuating a little something CNN and the dinosaur media like to call “fake news.”
Stelter, meet the pot and the kettle. They are both black. News needs to be verified before it is repeated especially when the claims are explosive. You, sir, are guilty of what you accuse so many other outlets of news and blog offerings of perpetuating. That can go in the dictionary under the word “irony.”