In an article compiled by Luke Harding, Shaun Walker and Julian Borger, entitled “MH17 report suggests efforts were made to cover up causes of disaster”, and published October 13, the Guardian claimed the Dutch report on the downing of MH17 alleged there was evidence of a “bungled autopsy” and attempt to “remove foreign objects” from the body of the first officer. The implication was that this had been done in order to conceal the cause of the crash, and the further implication was of course that Russia and the rebels had been involved.
The report by the Dutch safety board said that more than 120 objects, “mostly metal fragments”, were found in the body of the first officer, who had sustained “multiple fractures”.. When Dutch experts identified the captain’s body they found it had already “undergone an external and internal examination to remove foreign objects”.
Despite apparent attempts to remove shrapnel, “hundreds of metal objects were found”, the report said, as well as bone fractures and other injuries.
After this appeared a rebuttal was posted BTL, by the CiFer known as Pigswiggle, who showed conclusively the report made no such claim, or anything remotely like such a claim.
This is a really bizarre inference
The report is merely explaining that the Captain from Team A was not chosen by the public prosecutor as one of the bodies for further “detailed examination.” The Dutch authorities “found” that the Captain’s body “had already ‘undergone an external and internal examination to remove foreign objects,'” because it was part of the investigation procedure that all the bodies were subjected to (as described in the preceding paragraphs of the report). The Guardian is attempting to accuse Russia of a “cover up” based on the investigative actions of the Netherlands Forensic Institute. Indeed, according to the report, the persons responsible for having removed foreign objects from the Captain was a team of “120 forensic specialists from the National Forensic Investigations Team (LTFO) from the Netherlands and 80 forensic specialists from Australia, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, and New Zealand.”
The Guardian needs to correct this story. It is highly embarrassing to it and its journalists.
[read full text of this comment here]
Following this, and other complaints, October 14 the Guardian issued what amounted to a retraction:
and reworded the offending part of the article to read:
The report by the Dutch safety board said that more than 120 objects, “mostly metal fragments”, were found in the body of the first officer, who had sustained “multiple fractures”. Dutch experts performed an “external and internal examination on the the captain’s body” and removed “hundreds of metal fragments”. They also observed bone fractures and other injuries.
Shaun Walker even tweeted the retraction:
Some cynical commenters have pointed out this “error” has had the result of spreading a false and baseless rumour of Russian evidence-tampering around the web. A rumour that the foot-noted retraction will do little to quell – especially since they did not see fit to also change their grossly misleading headline, which as of 20:00 BST October 14 still reads thus:
Which means to all intents and purposes the lie is left to stand, “retraction” or no.
Is this ethical journalism?
Anyone who wants to register their opinion on this and/or ask for further correction can write to the Guardian here:
So, to recap…
- a Guardian-reader points out a very basic and misleading error in their article.
- The Guardian “corrects” the error, in the most perfunctory way possible, with a footnote at the very end of the piece.
- It refuses to change its own misleading headline that no longer even makes sense.
- It then deletes the comment that pointed out the error.
Those who want to ask for clarification of the reasons why the comment was removed, more than 24 hrs after it was posted, and what “community standards” it breached can write to firstname.lastname@example.org