I wonder if the national media, Facebook, and Google are all going to work together to try to shut down the purveyor of this story for publishing such false, unsubstantiated, and misleading fake news.
The story went something like this. A popular Santa in Knoxville, Tennessee Eric Schmitt-Matzen – complete with a well-groomed white beard and jolly, stocky stature – received a call from a nurse asking if he could come to the hospital and be with a terminally ill 5-year-old boy in his last remaining minutes.
Santa rushes over to the hospital just in time to be able to say a few words and hold the child before the young boy expired in his arms.
“When you get to those pearly gates, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s No. 1 elf, and I know they’ll let you in,” Schmitt-Matzen remembered telling the boy.
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There was one problem. No one ever actually vetted the story. Since Schmitt-Matzen didn’t want to provide the nurse’s or the boy’s names, and the particular hospital he supposedly went to was never named, networks started calling Knoxville hospitals to try to confirm the story. None of them could.
Further, the coroner’s office couldn’t confirm the particular child’s death without a name, and “a search of obituaries in Tennessee newspapers from the beginning of 2016 for 5-year-old boys did not yield conclusive proof confirming or refuting the account.”
Where does it stand now? The original publisher – the Knoxville News Sentinel – has had to update their story with this disclaimer, written by the author Sam Venable and the paper’s editor Jack McElroy, in part:
“The News Sentinel cannot establish that Schmitt-Matzen’s account is inaccurate, but more importantly, ongoing reporting cannot establish that it is accurate. Therefore, because the story does not meet the newspaper’s standards of verification, we are no longer standing by the veracity of Schmitt-Matzen’s account.”
Apparently, Schmitt-Matzen did not approach the News Sentinel directly but through one of the paper’s known sources. The newspaper did, however, reach out to Santa for comments and such. But there was no vetting until after the story was published.
If Santa made up this story, it’s served as the perfect advertisement for him just in time for Christmas. His account has not been proven to be false. So, no one can yet claim he was lying. All he has to do is say he’s trying to protect everyone’s identities. “If some people want to call me a liar … I can handle that better than I can handle a child in my arms dying,” he told the Washington Post. “It’s sticks and stones.”
Think he’s telling the truth? Or is this his way of getting free, national air time to advertise his business?
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