Episode #41: “Not Weird Enough to Be True”, from True’s 15 March 2009 issue.
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Not Weird Enough to Be True
arious newspapers and wire services, including CNN and Agence France-Presse, ran with the story: due to the bad economy, their stories said, a married Chinese businessman named “Fan” couldn’t afford his five mistresses anymore, and decided to have a them all compete to see which one he would keep on. When the first was eliminated as she was not pretty enough, she took the man and the four other women on a drive — and drove off a cliff. According to the story the driver, “Yu”, 29, was killed and the rest injured. The story explained the women all knew of each other, but didn’t complain because they lived rent-free and got a 5,000 yuan (US$730) monthly allowance. After the crash Fan supposedly paid Yu’s family 580,000 yuan (US$84,744) in compensation for her death. The story supposedly came to light when “accident” investigators found a letter Yu wrote revealing the whole scheme, which then led Fan’s wife to divorce him and the four remaining mistresses to leave him. But Chinese bloggers found the women’s reported allowance “too low for college grads” and confronted the Peninsula Metropolis Daily, the Qingdao Province newspaper that broke the story. Embarrassed editors printed a retraction and said they fired the reporter for making up the story, but no non-Chinese paper or wire service which ran translations have run a correction. (CNN, AFP, Newsweek) …It’s new journalism’s mantra: Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
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