Last Thursday we mentioned that we would work on a video explaining the role of the newspaper El País regarding “the Russian Plot.” But during the documentation process we have
discovered something we would like to explain.
The images of police brutality on October 1st had an enormous impact on public opinion regarding Spain’s image globally. The most prestigious media in the world were extremely straight forward and blunt:
Faced with this P.R. disaster, over the hours that followed, the Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, attempted to convince people, by any means necessary, that the images were ‘fake news’. Here are some of the attempts … quite unsuccessful, I might add.
Even international news stations, freaking out over what Dastis was saying, went on Twitter to explain that the images of police brutality had been recorded by their own camera crews.
Enter Maldito Bulo, a group dedicated to fact-checking and exposing fake news, working then for Spanish TV station La Sexta. Maldito Bulo denounced fake photos from October 1st.
Maldito Bulo was correct: they discovered (among thousands of photos that were published on that day) that 6 images of police brutality were not from October 1st. But we need to raise two points:
First: the 6 fake images discovered by Maldito Bulo start appearing in important Spanish media. The idea was, based on these 6 images, to present police brutality as a pro-independence hoax.
Second: several international media became interested in these 6 fake images of October 1st and interviewed the head of Maldito Bulo, Clara Jiménez Cruz. Two of them were Poynter and the Washington Post.
In the Poynter interview, Jiménez Cruz explains that they have seen “many images” of injured people who were not from October 1st, but fails to specify how many.
One could debate whether 6 pictures are “a lot of fake pictures” of injured people. But at no point in time is it mentioned that there were thousands of real pictures of police brutality.
When Jiménez Cruz explains the case of the fake police brutality photos to the Washington Post, things get worst: It is now stated that “most” photos are fake.
It is now October 19th and Spanish diplomats continue their attempts to counter the enormous blow to their international credibility. The Washington Post text gave them a bit of breathing air. Look:
Let’s get back to Maldito Bulo and Jiménez Cruz. This week, when we found the Washington Post article, we reached out to Jiménez: What information does she have to make such a claim?
Jiménez replied that the interview had been done by e-mail and told us:
What? The reporter from the Washington Post adds an adverb? As a result, we contacted the reporter, Amanda Erikson, to ask her about the issue. While waiting for an answer we wondered:
FIRST: Maldito Bulo says they fight inaccuracies, lies and manipulation. Given that the Foreign Minister had been denying evident police brutality to the international press.
SECONDLY: Jiménez says that it is the Washington Post reporter who added something she die not say (“most of them are fake”). Given that Maldito Bulo’s job is exposing fallacies, errors and other half truths:
Someone may think it’s no big deal, that a single word more or less doesn’t matter. But police brutality on October 1st has caused enough suffering to enough people to warrant our demand for absolute accuracy.
And ATTENTION: This morning, as we were about to publish this text, we got an e-mail from Amanda Erikson of The Washington Post:
The Washington Post, three years later, has had to rectify. Here you can see how the article was before, how it is now and the note acknowledging the error they made:
Someone may think that “it’s just a word”. But this one word says that all the harm caused on October 1st was, for the most part, a lie. It is a very important word. Especially since it was published in the Washington Post.
Someone may think that “it’s only a word.” But for a single word, a tweet or some lyrics, in Spain people are persecuted and imprisoned. Therefore, every single word matters. And every single word must be challenged.
This small battle is over and we’re going into the next one: we’re still working on the video about how El País and its deputy director in 2017, David Alandete, plotted a web of lies between September 23, 2017 and June 2018.
NOTE: Octuvre does not receive grants or accept advertising. Our work is made possible thanks to our donors and subscribers. If you would like to get to know more about our project, you can find us at: https://octuvre.cat/collabora/.
NOTE 2: We started uncovering the plot with this article that appeared on El Salto recommended to us by Àngel Ferrero. Thank you, guys.