April 4, 2006, - 11:00 am
By Debbie Schlussel
More proof that you can’t believe everything you read–or the photos you see–in USA Today or the rest of the liberal media. And more proof that some “documentaries” are just plain fiction.
USA Today apparently has a rampant problem of reporters publishing anything anyone tells them without checking a thing. Now, The paper had yet another episode with a reporter writing a phony story, all having to do with a “documentary” about World War II, also now exposed as a complete fraud. The paper even published a phony picture of the alleged subject of the article (it was an actor).
The documentary portrayed a messenger–carrying the news the War had ended to President Truman–as a lazy teenager who stopped to eat pancakes and flirt, unnecessarily delaying the end of World War II. Total fiction, to which USA Today gave wide exposure.
But USA Today doesn’t blame their lazy reporter who wrote an article of fiction–none of which he verified, and his editors (who don’t fact-check either, apparently). Nope. The paper blames it on the fraudulent film and the filmmaker, whose story the paper retold verbatim and without question.
You’d think a paper with a similar, previous embarrassing scandal, like the Jack Kelley plague, would have learned a “journalistic” bastion a lesson. But you’d be wrong.
Kelley was USA Today’s star reporter, who fabricated and plagiarized virtually all his stories, including an apocryphal story about an angry Jewish settler who wanted to kill Palestinians. The settler didn’t exist. USA Today brass ignored repeated demands to investigate Kelley, until it became so embarrassing, they finally had to do something. They finally fired Kelley.
But they’ve apparently learned nothing.
As we reported here, last year, USA Today reporter Stephanie Armour wrote a totally false story about an alleged former Harvard and pro hockey player who became a multi-millionaire Hispanic drink distributor. But none of it was true. She failed “Reporting 101” and didn’t verify a thing. Instead, she published a repeat of his press releases and fanciful stories. Very lazy. The paper had to publish an embarrassing article noting the fakery and retracting Armour’s “report.”
Was Armour fired for putting forth a completely phony story? Of course, not. She continues to “report”–or whatever you call fiction-writing–for USA Today.
Now, there’s yet another. But this time it defames a man’s behavior during World War II, far more serious.
Yesterday, USA Today had to publish yet another embarrassing article “correcting” yet another reporter, Patrick Gavin’s phony work. Gavin reported on a “documentary”–it now turns out to be mostly fiction–made by “filmmaker” Quincy Perkins and funded by Philadelphia ’76ers owner Greg Croce.
The “documentary” was about Thomas E. Jones. Then a 16-year-old messenger, he delivered the encoded cable to President Truman notifying him of Japan’s World War II surrender in 1945 and the War’s end.
USA Today reporter Gavin didn’t check the most basic “facts” he reported, and they turned out to be fiction. He reported that Jones was dead, and didn’t bother to check that. In fact, it took Jones’ children, using Google, to discover the false reporting that their father was dead and other phony details:
Jones . . . died Dec. 31 after battling various illnesses. But Perkins was able to tape a series of interviews that would form the basis for his 16-minute film.
Guess what? Thomas E. Jones is alive and well. And he never ever met or spoke with “filmmaker” Perkins. Had Gavin bothered to look into that, he’d also know that the rest of his “reporting” was phony also, including the headline, “Boy’s Pancake Breakfast Delayed the End of WWII.”
Gavin’s article began:
Whenever someone mentioned pancakes, without fail Thomas E. Jones would immediately think of Harry Truman.
It’s an odd word association for sure, but it’s understandable given Jones’ unusual place in our nation’s history.
On Aug. 14, 1945, Jones, a 16-year-old messenger in Washington, D.C., was entrusted to deliver to the White House the cable announcing Japan’s surrender to the United States to end World War II.
Unaware of his cargo’s import, the boy, in cavalier teenage fashion, put work on hold to eat pancakes at a diner, hang out with his friends and flirt with waitresses.
Later, he left his pancakes to complete the job only to be pulled over en route to the White House by a police officer, who berated the boy for making an illegal U-turn.
Except none of this is true. There were no pancakes, and the real, alive-and-well Thomas E. Jones says:
We delivered the message at four o’clock in the afternoon . . . . And we knew at the office that it had to do with the Japanese surrender. There wasn’t any lollygagging around. It was, ‘Take this and go.’
Gavin also reported this:
In one part of the interview, Jones, 76, recalls handing the president the letter: “He said, ‘What do you have for me, young man?’ I gave him the letter, and he opened it up and looked at it for a while and then patted me on the head and said: ‘It’s good news. It’s really good news.'”
“It was such a large moment in history that nobody knows about, and I just love that,” says the director, 25. “I feel like an archaeologist in a way. . . . We did everything they tell you not to do,” the young filmmaker says. “This film theoretically should not have been made.
Uh-huh. An “archeologist” who makes up history. But he’s right: This fake film should NOT have been made.
And the USA Today reporter should have reported. But now that he didn’t, don’t look for him to be fired. Jack Kelley, Stephanie Armour, and now Patrick Gavin. (Last year, The Detroit News, then-owned by USA Today owner Gannett, also published a fake story by “star” reporter David Shepardson. Nothing happened to him either.)
And they tell us they are “journalists.” Puh-leeze. We’d be safer believing what we read in the “The Onion” (“America’s Finest News Source”).
NBA ’76ers owner Pat Croce, the funder of the “documentary,” has a lot of egg on his face, too:
“I love history, ideally pirate history,” Croce says. “But when Quincy said he had this story that wasn’t even in Truman’s biography, I thought this film has to be made. – I told him, ‘Don’t settle for anything. Our goal is an Oscar.’ “
Like we said, somebody’s taking cues from Michael Moore.
Tags: 76ers owner, actor, America, archaeologist, archeologist, D.C., David Shepardson, Debbie Schlussel More, director, drink distributor, Gannett, Google, Greg Croce, Harry Truman, Harvard, hockey, I, Jack Kelley, Japan, lazy reporter, liberal media, messenger, Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock, National Basketball Association, NBA, Oscar, Pat Croce, Patrick Gavin, Philadelphia, Philadelphia 76ers, police officer, President, pro hockey player, Quincy Perkins, reporter, Stephanie Armour, the Detroit News, the USA Today, Thomas E. Jones, United States, USA Today, Washington, White House