James Tracy thinks journalists get a lot of things wrong. He thinks journalists mindlessly ingest whatever false narrative the U.S. government provides and plop it into the news inches as fact. He thinks journalism is corrupt. He thinks journalism is incompetent. He thinks journalism is weak.
But at least we don't make up people's names. (At least not regularly.)
Yesterday, New Times gave a quick sleuth of Tracy's blog, memoryholeblog, to see what madness had bubbled to the surface this week. Had the U.S. government planned the Bangladesh factory disaster? Was Tim Tebow ever, really, a football player -- or merely a manifestation of the "corporate media?
Spies and operators of subterfuge lurk the land, Tracy whispers. Trust no one.
So on the tenured professor's website we came across what has become a perfunctory Tracian rant, which alleged exaggeration in early articles that had reported how many people were injured in the Boston bombing a few weeks ago. Initially, in all the chaos and madness of those early days, Reuters and other outfits had said the bombs had injured hundreds of people.
But now! Tracy says, the number of people injured has withered to merely 55 people. Not only that, but the Globe, which has netted widespread admiration for its tenacious coverage of the bombings, couldn't verify the ages of all every single victim. And this, ladies and gentlemen, can only mean one thing to our dear professor: our government colluded with the media to obfuscate that the government had planned the entire thing.
Outraged, Tracy on Friday dialed up the Boston Globe. Now he'll show those connivers.
When I contacted Boston Globe newsroom via telephone on May 11, 2013 to clarify why the injury list had not been updated, or whether entire names and injury descriptions might still remain unpublished, a reporter identifying herself as Mary Covlu responded that the website "is just for people with serious injuries." When I inquired whether "temporary hearing loss," listed as the medical condition of 32-year old Nicholas Yanni of Boston could be considered a "serious injury," the reporter expressed astonishment and could not respond.
There was only one problem, Mary Covlu doesn't exist. Go ahead: Google her. Nothing, right?
That's because Tracy didn't talk with Globe reporter Mary Covlu, but Mary Pavlu, an intern.
Pavlu was shocked when she read Tracy's recitation of their conversation. "This man did speak with me, but he completely mis-wrote our conversation," she wrote New Times in a message. "I made it clear to him that I am an intern at the Boston Globe and only work one day a week. I [told him] I had no part of that story, nor did I even see it, and that I was the wrong person to be speaking to about it."