The Washington Post

Daily Mail cannot figure out origins of dentist story

It’s no surprise that the story of a jilted Polish dentist who pulled out all the teeth of her ex-boyfriend in an act of revenge has turned out to be baseless. Nor is it surprising that the whole story originated from the Daily Mail. Another non-surprise is that a bunch of news outlets in the United States and abroad eagerly aggregated the story onto their Web sites.

What is a bit extreme about this particular case of Internet hoax distribution is that the story’s alleged creator cannot even explain how it originated. Erin Tennant, who wrote the story of the hoax for MSNBC, gets this account from the Daily Mail staffer whose byline is on the piece:

But [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.”

Some mystery. I’ve contacted the Daily Mail in search of more data on this dentist thing. They’ve got to have a better response than that. Despite MSNBC’s debunking, the Daily Mail appears to be standing by its version, at least as of 11:28 a.m. While the Huffington Post, MSN, the San Francisco Chronicle and Yahoo! News have appended corrective language to their aggregational pieces, other outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, Fox News, the New York Post and the New York Daily News, haven’t yet gotten around to their retractions. Or they’re hiding them well.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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