Media get punk'd: News outlets go bonkers with story of French teacher "attacked by ISIS" — which he now admits was a total lie

A man lied about being attacked by ISIS. That didn't stop the media from exploding and eating up another fake story

Published December 14, 2015 5:12PM (EST)


You can basically make up anything about ISIS, and the Western media will uncritically repeat it.

Just last week, an exposé found that a Muslim U.S. military veteran who was smeared by the right-wing media as a supposed member of ISIS was in fact completely innocent.

On the same day, it was revealed that claims that Mexican drug leader El Chapo had declared war on ISIS — as reported by The New York Post, Fox News, and even Forbes — were actually completely false. They were unsubstantiated rumors based on a joke created by a satirical news site.

This morning, we have yet another example. The media went crazy with a story about a French teacher who claimed he was stabbed by ISIS in a classroom.

  • "Paris teacher stabbed by masked man who yelled about ISIS, prosecutor says," CNN reported.
  • "'This is a warning': Man citing ISIS attacks teacher in France classroom," said Fox News.
  • "French teacher stabbed by masked attacker claiming support for ISIS," USA Today warned.
  • "'This is Daesh': French teacher slashed in ISIS-inspired attack," the New York Post wrote.
  • "France teacher stabbed in Paris by 'ISIS supporter,'" reported the Daily Mail.

Countless publications and news outlets fear-mongered about the story, stressing that it led to a "manhunt" in France, and put the country "on edge."

The problem is, yet again, this is an utter fabrication. The teacher was not attacked by ISIS. He later admitted to authorities that he made up the story.

The man was indeed stabbed at a school in Aubervilliers, northeast of Paris, but not by a member of ISIS. He's presently in the hospital with light wounds in his side and throat.

For media watchdog Fairness in Accuracy and Reporting (FAIR), journalist Adam Johnson has meticulously documented how the media fear-mongers and spreads myths about ISIS without any evidence or serious scrutiny.

"Once again, media terrorize the public for the terrorists," Johnson wrote in one of his many reports.

Some U.S. news outlets like Fox News even went so far as to share ISIS' grotesque propaganda videos.

When it comes to rumors about ISIS, publications and journalists become lazy and abandon the skepticism that is an absolutely crucial part of their jobs. Stories that tug at fears and serve powerful interests — and, most importantly, generate lots and lots of clicks — continue to be published, with little regard for facts.

Teacher 'Invented' Story About Being Stabbed by ISIS Supporter

By Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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