Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Long Crawl-back Part IV: After my father lied to their readers, The Guardian publishes a re-write with a groveling editor's note

Via veteran reporter Ben Kaufman's media column in the June 8, 2016 Cincinnati CityBeat, the Queen City's longtime newsweekly:
A recent Cincinnati Enquirer story went global, aided and abetted by the Associated Press. It was perfect click bait. The story said that at 96, Cincinnatian Henry Heimlich used his Maneuver for the first time to save a life (of a purported choking victim, 87-year-old Patty Ris, at the Deupree House senior residence*).
...After Peter Heimlich alerted The Enquirer and others to a similar claim (his father had made) years ago, the paper backed away from the novelty. It assigned a second reporter to redo the story, adding and explaining doubts about the “first” in the longest crawl-back I can remember.

Peter Heimlich told me that in addition to The Enquirer and AP, “these are some of the news outlets I filed corrections requests with last week: CNN, NBC News, The New York Daily News, and WCPO-TV. At this writing, none have corrected the errors.”
This is the fourth part of a series about my corrections requests.

* Reporters at McKnight's and Slate have questioned the veracity of the Deupree House story. So have I.


After I informed Guardian reporter Joanna Walters in a June 16, 2016 corrections request that she'd been punk'd by 96-year-old father, her paper published a June 28, 2016 re-write of her May 27 article with a new headline, a new lead, and this:
Last Monday [May 23, 2016] the retired chest surgeon encountered a female resident at his retirement home in Cincinnati who was choking at the dinner table.
Without hesitation, Heimlich spun her around in her chair so he could get behind her and administered several upward thrusts with a fist below the chest until the piece of meat she was choking on popped out of her throat and she could breathe again.
...“That moment was very important to me. I knew about all the lives my manoeuvre has saved over the years and I have demonstrated it so many times but here, for the first time, was someone sitting right next to me who was about to die.”
After initial reports emerged of Heimlich and his son Philip declaring this was the first time the retired surgeon had used his technique to treat someone who was choking, an account emerged of an earlier incident.

A 2003 BBC Online report quoted Heimlich talking about using the manoeuvre on a choking diner in a restaurant in 2000. Reports also appeared in the New Yorker and the Chicago Sun-Times. Interviewed again on Friday afternoon by the Guardian, the 96-year-old Heimlich said he did not recall such an incident. His son Philip also stated that he had no knowledge of his father using the technique in any prior emergency.
This is appended at the end of the re-write:

My father lied to their readers and the Guardian covers for him?

In any event, here are the other fixes.

Via the Wayback Machine's cached version of the original article:

Via the current version:

Then there's this tidbit which I tagged in my June 14 item, Mystery meat at the Deupree House -- and is my father dating the "ostensible choking victim"?

Based on my experience, plenty of good beat reporters and editors would have caught that contradiction and would try to fact-check it, so I sent the information to Joanna Walters and Guardian editor David Taylor.

The "bone in the hamburger" puzzlement is still in the current version, so presumably the Guardian gave my father -- who has been widely exposed as a charlatan and a serial liar -- the benefit of the doubt.